GPhC publish community pharmacy inspection reports on new website


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun publishing pharmacy inspection reports on a new website, after getting the legal powers to do so and consulting on plans for publishing reports with patients and the public and the pharmacy sector. This major change for pharmacy will help to inform and assure the public about the standards they can expect from pharmacies and drive improvement in pharmacy services.


The new pharmacy inspections publication site has been designed so that members of the public can easily find and use information about pharmacies they use. They will be able to see if a pharmacy that has been inspected since April 2019 has met or has not met all of the standards for registered pharmacies and how well a pharmacy is performing against five principles.


Where a pharmacy has not met all the standards, an improvement action plan will also be published. Members of the public taking part in the consultation emphasised that they wanted to be able to see improvement action plans, so they could be assured that improvement was underway and be informed about what steps the pharmacy was taking to meet the standards and that this was being monitored.


Key facts about the new pharmacy inspections publication site:


  • The new pharmacy inspections publication site features reports from inspections of pharmacies that have taken place since April 2019 and is updated on a daily basis with new reports.
  • Users can search for pharmacy inspection reports by postcode, street, town or pharmacy name.
  • Users can also search across all inspection reports using different criteria to find reports most relevant to them.
  • The new knowledge hub has been designed to highlight examples of excellent, good and poor practice for the key themes identified in the learning from inspections report, as well as examples for the standards that have a key role in driving performance and the standards that are most commonly found to be not met by pharmacies.
  • The site includes links to NHS UK, NHS Inform and NHS Direct Wales, so people can find out further information about a pharmacy’s services and opening times, and to other regulators with a role in regulating healthcare services and medicines across Great Britain.
  • The knowledge hub provides 24/7 access to examples of excellent, good and poor practice in pharmacy for the pharmacy team.
  • A pharmacy’s entry on the pharmacy register will show if a pharmacy has a published report and link to that report. The pharmacy’s profile page on the new inspections publication site also links to its entry on the register.
  • The homepage of the new pharmacy inspections publication site includes a link to a page displaying the inspection reports published in the last 28 days.
  • Our new website can be found here.
  • You can read our report on learning from inspections here.


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:


“Publishing inspection reports for the first time is a significant milestone in pharmacy regulation and gives the public and the pharmacy sector access to a wealth of information that they can use to inform the decisions they make. We believe it will give greater assurance to patients and the public that almost all pharmacies are meeting standards, and that we make sure those pharmacies not meeting standards take the necessary steps to do so.


“We know from carrying out thousands of inspections that pharmacies will only perform well against the standards if pharmacy owners have made sure that their pharmacies have the right governance, systems and culture in place, and are investing in their staff.  Once these elements are in place, the pharmacy staff then are able to deliver good and excellent practice for the patients and the public using their services.”


Jasmine Shah, Head of Advice and Support Services at the NPA said:


“This brings pharmacy into line with most other public services and public expectations.  Patients now have access to more information to help them make informed choices about their pharmaceutical care.


“It’s encouraging that nine in 10 pharmacies met all the standards set by the regulator. Most of the pharmacies rated excellent since 2013 are independent pharmacies, which indicates that independents are prepared to go the extra mile to provide great service to their patients. What we would like to see is consistently high-quality care in all pharmacies.


“The GPhC analysis shows that investing in staff is a key driver of performance against the standards. The NPA offers flexible learning options to suit training needs.”


The President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Sandra Gidley said:


“Publishing inspection reports is a vital step to protecting the public and ensuring an accurate picture of pharmacy practice. The website and the overall analysis report provide welcome transparency on how well pharmacies are performing. The good news is that the vast majority (over 85%) meet all the inspection standards. The improvement action plans for those not meeting the standards support pharmacy teams to change their practice and bring reassurance to the public that steps are being taken to address any shortfalls.


“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. Pharmacists want to work in good pharmacies, with good systems and culture and these inspection reports will help with this. Improving governance, investing in staff and great leadership will reduce workplace stresses and barriers to best practice.


“The regulator’s report demonstrates that the public are receiving services of a consistent standard. The website’s knowledge hub for pharmacy professionals will also encourage the sharing of good practice and improve outcomes for patients. The RPS is here to help support pharmacists.”



GPhC announces new Director for Scotland

Laura Fraser GPhC Director for Scotland


The General Pharmaceutical Council has appointed Laura Fraser as the new Director for Scotland. Laura has held leadership roles in community pharmacy across Scotland, including as a board member of Community Pharmacy Scotland.


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Officer, said:


“I am delighted to announce that Laura Fraser has been appointed as our Director for Scotland. The open recruitment campaign led to a strong field of candidates, and Laura’s experience across community pharmacy and more recently with the Scottish government will be an asset to the GPhC. I am looking forward to taking forward a number of key work programmes with Laura, ensuring that Scottish perspectives and stakeholder voices are represented across our work.


Laura Fraser said:


“Throughout my career, making sure that patients receive excellent care from pharmacy services has always been my central focus. I am delighted to be taking this focus forward with the regulator as the Director for Scotland and look forward to working closely with stakeholders across Scotland to achieve this.”



GPhC to recruit three new council members


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun recruiting for three new council members, including two registered pharmacy professionals and one lay member of the public.


The recruitment campaign is seeking candidates from all sections of the community across Great Britain who can bring a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience to the Council. This must include one member who lives or works wholly or mainly in Scotland.


Candidates will need to meet the essential criteria for the role as outlined in the candidate pack, and the GPhC is particularly seeking candidates with one or more of the following experience:


  • Knowledge and/or experience of patient advocacy or the patient voice (Lay).
  • Clinical and/or prescribing skills in one or a range of settings (Registrant).
  • Experience of technology developments in healthcare (Lay or Registrant).
  • An understanding of academic and vocational education and training (Lay or Registrant).


Commenting on the recruitment of the new council members, Nigel Clarke, Chair of the GPhC said:


“This is an exciting time to join the GPhC Council. We have an ambitious programme of work ahead at this time of change for pharmacy, and as a Council we have an important strategic governance and assurance role to play.


“We value diversity and want to promote it on our Council.  It is vital that our Council members are drawn from the widest possible talent pools, bringing with them different life experiences, ideas and perspectives, to inform our discussions and decisions. We would encourage anyone who meets the criteria to apply, even if they have not held this type of role before.


“I also want to take this opportunity to thank our three outgoing council members for their significant contribution and dedication to improving pharmacy practice for patients and the public.”


Complex, outdated and adversarial regulation of healthcare professionals to be reformed


The Government have responded to the promoting professionalism; reforming regulation consultation. They have said that the UK’s model of professional regulation for healthcare professionals has become increasingly complex, outdated and is seen as adversarial and legalistic and that change is necessary.


The consultation received over 900 responses from individuals, organisations, healthcare professionals and members of the public.


The Government have prioritised changes to the regulators’ fitness to practise processes and operating framework. They have said that this will realise the greatest benefits for regulatory bodies, registrants and the public. These changes are aimed at delivering:


  • Modern and efficient fitness to practise processes.
  • Better support for professionals.
  • More responsive and accountable regulation.


Professional regulation assures the public that the people who provide healthcare are qualified, capable and competent. When healthcare professionals do not meet these standards, professional regulators must act to protect the public. Professional regulation underpins public confidence that healthcare professionals provide safe care.


However, the Government have said in this response that the regulators of healthcare professionals could do more, and want to do more, to support the professionalism of all registrants.


As part of their response, the Governement has said that the legislation that governs the nine UK healthcare regulatory bodies is bureaucratic, inflexible and has led to complex and inefficient systems.


The regulatory bodies are set to be provided with broadly consistent powers to handle fitness to practise cases in a more responsive and proportionate manner.


Significant change


Fitness to practise concerns will be concluded quickly, proportionately and fairly, replacing the current bureaucratic, time-consuming processes that are burdensome and can be stressful for patients, their families, registrants and employers. The most significant change will enable regulators to resolve fitness to practise cases without the need for a full panel hearing where it is appropriate to do so.


The Government claim that the changes to fitness to practise will allow decisions to be made more quickly, providing early resolution for patients, families and professionals, and ensuring that the steps necessary to protect the public are put in place sooner.


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said:


“The recent response sets out the next steps for the UK and Devolved Governments in reforming regulation to promote the professionalism of health and social care professionals and to further improve the protection of patients.


“We welcome the commitment to bring forward changes to the legislation setting out the fitness to practise processes for the health professional regulators. Patients and the public have the right to expect that concerns about any health or social care professional will be addressed quickly, consistently and fairly.  It is therefore important that these legislative changes happen at the same time for all the regulators and at the earliest possible opportunity.


“We strongly support the move to give us and the other regulators greater autonomy to set more of our own operating procedures in fitness to practise. This will enable us to be more responsive to external developments, take a proportionate, person-centred approach in all cases, and quickly improve the effectiveness of our processes, which will benefit both patients and health professionals. It will also enable us to spend more of our resources on supporting the professionalism of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. These proposals are very much in line with the GPhC’s strategic approach and are to be welcomed.


“We agree that this greater autonomy must be accompanied by greater accountability. There needs to be openness and transparency across all our processes to maintain the confidence of the public and health professionals. We welcome the plans to increase our accountability to the UK and Devolved legislatures in the countries in which we regulate.


“In the response, the UK and Devolved Governments outline their intention to move forward with proposals to change the current structure of our Council to a unitary board, comprising executive and non-executive directors.


“We expressed our concerns about the proposed move to unitary boards in our response to the consultation, including whether this would allow appropriate ‘board’-level input from both of the professions and in each of the three countries which we regulate. We remain unconvinced that it will improve the governance of the health professional regulators.


“We believe the current structure for our Council, in which we have equal numbers of professional and lay members, is working very effectively and brings significant benefits, and crucially commands the confidence of the pharmacy professions. We want to make sure these benefits are not lost and any changes to governance arrangements are made in a way that mitigates the potential difficulties this could create and will look to work with the government to try to achieve this.


“The original consultation also explored whether there should be a reduction in the overall number of regulators, and how they should be configured. We agree with the government response that more work is needed before bringing a proposal forward for consultation, to understand the rationale for making this type of change and if the potential benefits would outweigh the challenges this would present.


“There is much to consider in today’s response. We will discuss it in detail with our Council and work closely with the UK and Devolved Governments and all other stakeholders as this work is taken forward, to help make sure all the changes achieve their aims of supporting the professionalism of health professionals and strengthening protection for patients. We also need to consider what these changes mean for us in terms of our role in regulating registered pharmacies, as well as pharmacy professionals.


“While we wait for legislative change, we will continue to make improvements to how we work within our current powers, including by developing our future strategy for fitness to practise”.


Tighter regulations on selling medicines online announced


Online pharmacies in Great Britain will have to follow updated guidance from the pharmacy regulator to protect people from getting medicines online.


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has strengthened its guidance (1) for pharmacy owners to help make sure that people can only obtain medicines from online pharmacies that are safe and clinically appropriate for them.


Online research by YouGov commissioned by the GPhC (2) found that 25% of people say they are likely to use online pharmacies in the future, but 50% of those unlikely to do so have concerns about the safety of online pharmacies. After considering feedback from the sector, patients and the public to proposals published last year (3), the GPhC has introduced further safeguards for patients and the public in the following key areas:


Making sure medicines are clinically appropriate for patients – online pharmacies will have to make sure:


  • Antimicrobials (antibiotics).
  • Medicines liable to abuse, overuse or misuse, or where there is a risk of addiction and ongoing monitoring is important. For example, opiates, sedatives, laxatives, pregabalin and gabapentin.
  • Medicines that require ongoing monitoring or management. For example, those used to treat diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and mental health conditions.
  • Non-surgical cosmetic medicinal products, such as Botox.


These safeguards include making sure the prescriber proactively shares all relevant information about the prescription with the patient’s GP after seeking the patient’s consent.


In the case of medicines liable to abuse, overuse or misuse, or when there is a risk of addiction and ongoing monitoring is important, the online pharmacy should have checked that the GP has confirmed to the prescriber that the prescription is appropriate and that monitoring is in place. In cases where a patient does not have a GP or a regular prescriber, or if there is no consent to share information and the prescriber has still issued a prescription, the online pharmacy should make sure the prescriber has made a clear record setting out their justification for issuing the prescription.


  • Transparency and patient choice – pharmacy owners will have to supply more details about where the service and health professionals involved in prescribing and supplying the medicine are based and how they are regulated, so people have enough information to make an informed decision about using the service and can raise concerns about the service if they need to.
  • Regulatory oversight – pharmacy owners working with prescribers or prescribing services operating outside the UK must take steps to successfully manage the additional risks that this may create, including assuring themselves that the prescriber is working within national prescribing guidelines for the UK.


These new safeguards received strong support overall from more than 800 individuals and organisations responding to a discussion paper published last year.


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council said:


“We support pharmacy services being provided in innovative ways, including online, as long as the services are safe and effective for people. But providing pharmacy services online carries particular risks which need to be successfully managed. People can be put at serious risk if they are able to obtain medicines that are not appropriate for them. We are now putting in place this updated guidance with further safeguards to protect people.


“I would strongly urge patients and the public wanting to obtain medicines online to only use online pharmacies registered with us, to protect their health. These pharmacies have to meet our standards and follow this guidance, so they provide safe and effective services, and we will be inspecting pharmacies to make sure this is the case. We are also continuing to work closely with other regulators involved in regulating online primary care services, governments and other stakeholders across Great Britain to improve the quality of care for patients online.”


RPS President Ash Soni said:


“The RPS welcome this updated guidance from GPhC to improve the protection of patients seeking medicines at a distance, including online.


“We are particularly pleased to see that the requirement for additional safeguards for certain categories of prescription only medicines – which include antibiotics, medicines liable for abuse and medicines that require ongoing monitoring or management – have been strengthened in the guidance document. Patient safety in relation to medicines is central to any pharmaceutical service.


“Furthermore, we welcome the fact that the GPhC has addressed our long held concerns that some websites have enabled patients to select which medicines they want rather than taking a consultation-based approach. An online consultation should meet the same standards as a face-to-face consultation.”




(1) The guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance including on the internet can be read here.
(2)  All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2040 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 9th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
(3) The consultation report can be found here.