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GPhC refutes ‘lack of criteria’ claims over premises rating change

The regulator’s head of inspections Mark Voce said Rohpharm Pharmacy was initially awarded excellent status due to an “admin error”


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has denied downgrading a London pharmacy's premises inspection report because it has no solid criteria for the excellent rating.

Jignesh Patel of Rohpharm Pharmacy in Plaistow initially received a report stating he had achieved excellent status due to a "simple admin error", GPhC head of inspections Mark Voce explained on Sunday (May 11).

The report was sent out before it had gone through quality assurance procedures, Mr Voce told C+D in an exclusive interview at the Alphega Pharmacy UK conference. Once fully reviewed, Mr Patel's rating was downgraded to good because it was not "innovative or unique" enough to warrant excellent status, he said.

Mr Patel said he was told the GPhC could not yet award an excellent rating as it had not yet agreed the criteria. But Mr Voce refuted claims that the criteria were not yet established.

Jignesh Patel of Plaistow's Rohpharm Pharmacy said he was told the GPhC could not award an excellent rating as it had not yet agreed the criteria

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"It's not... that we haven't really thought about what excellent is," he stressed. "We've got the definition out there, but, when we looked at that inspection as whole, we didn't think it met enough of the description to warrant it."

"Obviously it's slightly unfortunate it [the original report] was sent out. It was a simple admin error," Mr Voce added.

The GPhC defines an excellent pharmacy as one that not only meets all the required standards but "demonstrates innovation in the delivery of pharmacy services with clear positive health outcomes for its patients".

Mr Patel said he was puzzled why his pharmacy, which gained access to patient records in a pioneering move in February, had failed to meet those criteria. "We provide innovative services," he argued. "We showed them [the GPhC] how we had potentially saved people's lives because we could access blood test results and see what was happening."

What do you think about the GPhC's premises rating system?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

Is it really the GPhC's place to judge how original a pharmacy's services are? Seems a bit like if the Food Standards Agency handed out Michelin Stars. Innovative pharmacies should by all means receive credit, but it shouldn't be judged on the same scale as safety. If your pharmacy dispenses 20,000 items a month safely but you don't have a diabetes clinic and a warfarin clinic and so on, are you doing anything wrong? Or are you doing an excellent job of ensuring people have their medicines? The GPhC would likely rate you lower than the 2,000 item per month pharmacy doing other services, but in reality you're just serving equally as important functions. I worry that this may cause pharmacies to stretch their resources further than they should to try and achieve the excellent rating, which could pose a risk to safety and patient care.

Samuel Jacobs, Community pharmacist

The GPhC is a bloated, beaurocratic, self-serving organization controlled by the multiples and multi nationals who will guarantee positions for the faceless officials even after they leave their present positions. How cosy is that ?

Surely the time has come when ordinary pharmacists woke up and stood up to get rid of this abomination which has infected our profession.

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

What a shambles indeed is the GPhC!! Here we have a truly pioneering pharmacy, miles ahead of the rest, and they still cannot achieve an excellent rating. The only criteria we have are the two words 'innovate' and 'unique'. How the GPhC defines these words is anyones guess though!

I think what they are hinting at is that open heart surgery will need to be performed in the consultation room for an 'excellent' rating to be achieved. Though one may find themselves in front of the Statutory Committe if all does not go well.

An 'administrative error'? Don't make me laugh! That old chestnut. The GPhC is in a state of disarray at the minute. Not one piece of progressive or welcome news ever comes out of that recessive, bloated bureauocracy of ambiguity and contradiction.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""due to a "simple admin error", GPhC head of inspections Mark Voce revealed on Sunday (May 11)""

Does this call for a FtP or just because they are the inspectors of the regulators they are allowed a free hand on these sort of errors ???

Also, as Mr. Patel mentioned, how can accessing a patient's data and take decisions not an innovative service ??? And what constitutes an innovative or unique service?

Why do they have subjective criteria while making objective inspections? What a rubbish definition without any value to justify the definition.


London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Given that we know GPhC is not fit for purpose and serve the multilples Mr Patel should be grateful his Pharmacy has not failed and get on with his life. His Pharmacy seems to be a popular and welcome establishment in the community

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

I think there is more to it than that. I once complained about an independent years ago, GPhC were on their doorstep the next day. Then years after, complain about a multiple and they think twice before taking action.....
There are other theories and other speculations going around about the GPhC. None are proven yet. That is because we don't have a body above GPhC to monitor their decisions.

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

London branches are well managed. But as you move up north of UK, you see a difference in cultures and politics at work

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Khaled, I'm not sure how it is elsewhere but I saw a lot of favouritism when I worked for the shoe and I continue to hear stories from friends who still work there. A good number of highly competent and hardworking pharmacists being graded as "not performing" or "unsatisfactory" for not being team players (in other words, speaking up against the management), managers getting away with running a shoddy operation that puts patients at risk. The list goes on.

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

I agree

Dorothy Drury, Locum pharmacist

I have never been a manager of this and that, only a pharmacist that wants to get on with the job in hand. Time to get rid of all gobbledygook and management speak, the world of pharmacy will them excel. Please let us just do the job we trained for, without unqualified observers wrecking everything in their path.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

'London branches are well managed'

Are you sure? Have you worked for Boots in London?
Prayers are required before starting each shift.

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

I'm originally from London and worked in London for the first 1.8 years as a Locum. No problems in any place. The workload is divided well across all branches.

Up North in suburb areas, everyone goes to one branch for all things in the world. This leads to distractions, making work more risky especially when the management is not so good either. That's why there's always work for hard working Locums. In London there is little work for Locums as the Locum boards say ' they are well managed'.

But having said that the people up North are more chatty, more into other people's business. The likelihood of a patient making a complaint about an error is higher. That's my opinion.

Having said that, some multiples have better reputation than others in terms of customer advice so you will have more customers coming in for advice. Therefore even the London branches can be just as busy.

There is nearly Carehome work in every pharmacy I worked up North. Different from London. I worked in branches after Boots, that did 12-18k a month and I was the only checker. No ACT or double covers. Had no major problems. I got better. But of course, if there is customers coming in for constant advice and you are constantly getting distracted, then the best option would be to leave immediately.

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

This is something I got from Locum boards. There are more Locum jobs up north because of the management

M Yang, Community pharmacist

You've hit the hammer on the nail, Khaled. Too many branches of Boots the Chemist getting away with being death traps (both for pharmacists and patients).

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

This is common knowledge and we know the solution is always to jettison the Pharmacist. What we then need to do is move on and not dwell on the one independent but look to see how to rein in/replace GPhC or do whatever it takes to make them fit for purpose.

What about Pharmacies that will be erroneously be given a fail? Perhaps Mr Patel will turn out to be one of the lucky contractors!?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Exactly my point.
The GPhC inspection is objective based, like what are the SOPs, is entry made in CD register or not, is the sink safe to use or not etc. Without defining the parameters or giving a specific expectation from each category or marking (excellent etc) there is no point in issuing these ratings.

If they fail a pharmacy then they need to specify the reasons for failings and a clear instructions for improvement. Hence it is vital to define these parameters in advance so that the pharmacies can prepare themselves.

Halal Butcher, Academic pharmacist

Totally agree. Exactly my point in the previous article regarding this.

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