As part of a 12-week consultation – which it expects to launch “before the summer” – the regulator will propose publishing the reports of individual pharmacies on a new website, as well as “examples [of pharmacies] that demonstrate both good or excellent practice…and examples where standards are not being met”, it said in council papers this month (April 12).
“We believe that publishing inspection reports will strengthen the assurance we give to the public that pharmacies are providing safe and effective services and care,” the regulator said.
“It will also help to drive continuous improvement within pharmacies, by shining a light on the outcomes of inspections and sharing information that will help the sector to learn and improve.”
The GPhC will be given legal powers to publish the inspection results for the first time “shortly”, when the Pharmacy Order 2016 legislation comes into force, it said. This will be a “significant change for both patients and the public and for pharmacy owners”, it added.
Rudkin: “An incentive to make improvements”
Speaking to C+D exclusively last week (April 18), GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said publishing the reports would “provide a very important incentive for pharmacy owners to make any improvements that are needed”.
“[Contractors] will be aware in future that those issues with the pharmacy will have been published to people in their area, to competitors, to people involved in commissioning and also to their staff.”
For “some” contractors the reports would be “an important motivator in terms of public accountability…to sort things out where they need to”, he said.
The consultation document, which has not yet been finalised, will include examples of how the reports would be published, Mr Rudkin added.
Alongside the reports of individual pharmacies, the GPhC will publish aggregated information with “analysis, reflection, searchable resources online – so that people can slice and dice the findings from inspection reports in different ways”, he said.
No advance notice
In its papers, the regulator also proposed making inspections “unannounced as a general rule”, a major shift from the current policy of giving advance notice of between four and six weeks.
“This would provide additional assurance that the outcome of an inspection more accurately reflects the extent to which a pharmacy is meeting the pharmacy standards on a day-to-day basis and the experience of patients and the public,” it said.
Outcome of inspections “met” or “not-met”
The consultation will also seek views on narrowing down the range of inspection ratings – from “excellent”, “good”, “satisfactory” or “poor” – to just two possible outcomes: the pharmacy has “met” or “not met” the standards.
However, for each of the five principles within the 26 standards, pharmacies would receive one of four ratings: “standards not met”; “standards met”; “good practice”; or “excellent practice”, the GPhC explained.
It proposed including “a summary report, that will contain a link to the detailed report that contains the evidence of what was found and examples of notable practice”, the GPhC said.
The changes are being proposed because stakeholders had raised “concerns” that there was a “lack of clarity” in the current system, it said.
If the outcome of an inspection for a pharmacy was “not met”, a “mandatory improvement action plan” would be put in place, the regulator added.
The GPhC also proposed new inspection model made up of three types of inspections – “routine”, “intelligence-led” and “themed” (see more below).
Mr Rudkin said: “Pharmacies are diverse and getting more so – we need to make sure that we've got a range of inspection tools that serve slightly different purposes in the way that we've started to outline in the draft.”