Inspections are an essential but often dreaded part of pharmacy life. But as Leanne Beverley explains, with enough preparation they can go without a hitch

Pharmacy owners and staff often fear a GPhC inspection, especially if they haven’t had one since the model changed in 2013. No matter how many articles or guidance you read about the principles and standards, it can still be daunting, especially when you consider that since the new model was implemented, very few pharmacies have achieved more than a satisfactory rating. But what does the GPhC need to see for a pharmacy to be rated as good or excellent at an inspection? Well, at Monarch Pharmacy we soon found out.

We had our first inspection a month ago. We pride ourselves on running a well organised pharmacy, with a good skill mix of staff offering a variety of services. Yet there was a slight panic when a woman walking into our pharmacy announced she was from the GPhC and was here to inspect the pharmacy. Before the member of staff could hand over the inspector’s business card to me, she had already entered the dispensary, following the member of staff towards our second dispensary where our two pharmacists and I greeted her politely.

In answering the inspector’s questions, the pharmacists and I took the opportunity to promote ourselves and our achievements, and to show her the evidence, which proves we actually do what we say we do! She checked all of our records, as well as staff training logs and certificates. She checked our SOPs were signed and updated, and spoke with staff to ensure all required procedures were in place and being followed. We showed the inspector our health displays and the awards that we have won over the years for services such as smoking cessation. The practice leaflet was checked and, as we were in the process of updating this, we were able to show her the new draft version. It’s important to check that you’ve updated this with NHS 111 and the new contact details for patients wanting to make complaints.

The inspector seemed impressed, making comments about the pharmacy being well run, clean, tidy and highly professional. We headed for our lunch confi dent that we had done enough, but doubt still lingered about whether we should have shown more or whether our answers were enough.

The draft report arrived in our superintendent pharmacist’s inbox within a couple of days and this was forwarded onto to me with a ‘well done’. We achieved a “good” rating and were very proud of the result, feeling rewarded for our hard work.

Still, we wonder what we could have done to achieve an “excellent” rating. According to the GPhC, “you must meet the standards well but also demonstrate innovation in the delivery of pharmacy services with clear positive health outcomes for patients”. With the current cuts and lack of funding it’s hard to think of ways we can innovate services or offer something new and unique but we shall certainly try for next time.

My one piece of advice if you haven’t already had an inspection: gather lots of evidence, make sure your procedures and records are all up to date and regularly reviewed and that your staff are well versed in the pharmacy. Good luck!

Leanne is an accuracy checking pharmacy technician and supervisor at Monarch Pharmacy, Coventry. She is also an NVQ/BTEC assessor for pharmacy training providers, including NPA and Scientia Skills.

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