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Just six pharmacies rated 'excellent' in history of GPhC inspections

The pharmacy regulator has revealed that, of the 1,031 inspections carried out since 1 April 2019, 125 pharmacies were found not to have met all off their targets.

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Half of the six phamacies previously rated as excellent were small independent pharmacies

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) rated just six pharmacies as ‘excellent’ following more than 14,500 inspections between August 2013 and November 2018.

The ‘Analysis of inspection reports’ — a report written by management consultants Solutions for Public Health that includes data on all pharmacy inspections carried out by the regulator — found that less than 0.1% of all 14,650 pharmacy inspections carried out between August 2013 and November 2018 resulted in an ‘excellent’ rating.

The report was published on 17 September 2019 to coincide with the launch of the GPhC’s pharmacy inspections website, which publishes inspection reports on community pharmacies for the first time.

It shows that of the 1,031 GPhC inspections carried out under its new inspection regime since 1 April 2019, and with reports published on its website, 125 pharmacies were found not to have met all targets.

The GPhC first announced that it would be publishing pharmacy inspection results online in April 2018 as part of a consultation on changes to the inspection process, which took effect on 1 April 2019.

These included scrapping the tiered approach to overall ratings in favour of a rating of either ‘standards met’ or ‘standards not all met’. Previously, pharmacies were rated as excellent, good, satisfactory or poor.

To achieve the ‘standards met’ category, a pharmacy must achieve an acceptable grade across five ‘principle levels’. If the pharmacy misses just one of the standards expected at a given level they are issued with a ‘standards not met’ rating.

Pharmacies that have not met all the standards are required to complete an improvement action plan and are reinspected after six months.

The report showed that of the six pharmacies rated as ‘excellent’ between August 2013 and November 2018 — before the rating system was changed — three were single independent pharmacies, one was in a small chain (2–5 branches) and other two were part of larger chains (26–100 branches). None were from the large multiples.

However, the analysis showed that hospital pharmacies (28.2%), pharmacies belonging to larger pharmacy chains (24.3%) and pharmacies from multiples (27.0%) were more likely to be rated as ‘good’ compared to single independent (7.6%) and small-chain community pharmacies (9.9%).

Single independent (23.3%) and small chain community pharmacies (21.2%) were more likely to be rated as ‘satisfactory’ or ‘poor’ overall.

According to the analysis, the reasons behind this could relate to issues “in some of the smaller community pharmacy chains and independent community pharmacies that make it more difficult, for example, to establish good governance processes or perhaps difficulties in recruiting staff and maintaining the stable staff base required for this”.

The analysis also found that pharmacies with ‘good’ ratings overall were more likely to have good ratings relating to governance, staffing and service provision standards, “suggesting these three principles are key drivers of good performance”.

It added that a focus on these three aspects “is likely to have the greatest impact on improving overall pharmacy performance nationally”.

Commenting on the report, Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “The impact of good governance and systems on effective service provision couldn’t be clearer from this report.

“Pharmacists often work under enormous pressure made worse by system failures and end up taking personal responsibility for things beyond their control. This is a huge cause of workplace stress and a barrier to best practice.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207080

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