The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) should use its planned review of its premises ratings model to scrap the system altogether, pharmacy lawyer Noel Wardle has said.
The regulator announced last week that it was committed to removing its ‘satisfactory’ rating as part of an “urgent review” of the system planned for next year.
Mr Wardle, partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, said the GPhC should “get rid of” the system completely as it was “not fit for purpose”.
“For the pharmacy profession, the general feeling is that the criteria for applying for a rating is too opaque. Pharmacists have difficulty understanding why a particular rating has been applied and the complicated inspection reports do not help,” he told C+D.
Instead of rating every pharmacy as ‘poor’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, the regulator should focus on “identifying pharmacies where the premises are unsuitable”, Mr Wardle said. “I would suggest that a preferable system would be to simply award each pharmacy with a pass or a fail,” he added.
Locum dispenser Benjamin Leon D’Montigny agreed that the ratings system should be “dropped altogether”. “Either a pharmacy is meeting its standards, or it is not and needs to improve - there is no middle ground,” he posted on the C+D website.
Community pharmacist Michael Franks suggested that the regulator replace its ‘satisfactory’ rating with one that stated that the pharmacy had “complied with all GPhC standards at the time of inspection and was seen to give good advice to patients”.
Pharmaceutical company employee Richard Judge pointed out that education regulator Ofsted had dropped its own ‘satisfactory’ rating in 2012. “The word ‘satisfactory’ gives the impression that people have just scraped through, but in fact the minimum expectation should be ‘good’," he said.
Last week, the GPhC promised that finding an alternative to the ‘satisfactory’ rating was the “minimum” it expected from a review of its ratings system, scheduled for after the government has made the necessary changes to medicines law. The GPhC said it agreed with feedback that levelled “particular criticism” at the ‘satisfactory’ label, and said it would be “avoided in any final ratings model”.