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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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GPhC pharmacy inspections

Inspecting registered pharmacies

What happens during an inspection

Outcomes from inspections

Publication of inspection reports

Improvement action plans


Inspecting registered pharmacies

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) regulates pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain. We carry out pharmacy inspections to assess if pharmacies are meeting the standards for registered pharmacies. In this way, we provide assurance to patients and the public that they will receive safe and effective care. Pharmacy inspections are also intended to help pharmacies improve their systems and services, the quality of care and the outcomes for patients and the public using their services. We are now publishing reports from pharmacy inspections that have taken place since April 2019; use the search pages on this website to find out if your local pharmacy has been inspected and has a published report. You can also search through our full database of inspection reports to find all of the reports that meet the criteria you specify.

Pharmacy inspections are also intended to help pharmacies improve their systems and services, the quality of care and the outcomes for patients and the public using their services.

We are now publishing reports from pharmacy inspections that have taken place since April 2019; use the search pages on this website to find out if your local pharmacy has been inspected and has a published report. You can also search through our full database of inspection reports to find all of the reports that meet the criteria you specify.

What happens during an inspection?

As a general rule, inspections are now unannounced.

During an inspection, our inspectors will be looking for evidence to show that the standards are met. The whole pharmacy team will need to understand the standards and think about what examples they can give to show how they are meeting the standards and what supporting evidence they can provide.

When assessing if a pharmacy has met all of the standards, our inspectors consider our Inspection Decision-Making Framework [PDF 613 KB] and the Inspection practice note 1: Minor non-compliance [PDF 450 KB] . The Decision-Making framework is a guide to help support inspectors to make consistent decisions.

At the end of the inspection the inspector will go through their findings with the Responsible Pharmacist, who will be asked to confirm they have received feedback from the inspection. The Responsible Pharmacist has an opportunity to make any additional comments. This is important to show that the evidence recorded on the report is an accurate reflection of what the inspector saw and was shown on the day.

Find out about different types of inspections on our main website.

Outcomes from inspections

There are two potential outcomes from a pharmacy inspection: standards met or standards not all met.

All of the standards will need to be met for a pharmacy to receive a ‘standards met’ outcome, and any pharmacy not meeting all of the standards will need to complete an improvement action plan. The improvement action plan will be published alongside the inspection report.

The pharmacy will also receive one of four possible findings for each of the five principles within the standards for registered pharmacies [PDF 986 KB] . The four possible findings are:

  • 'excellent practice'
  • 'good practice'
  • 'standards met'
  • 'standards not all met'

This will help the pharmacy owner and the team to understand the positive areas of practice from the inspection, as well as areas for improvement. Having these four findings at principle level also enables us to identify notable practice – the good and excellent practice our inspectors are seeing during inspections, as well as poor practice. Our inspectors consider the ‘Findings Framework’ when assessing how to make findings against the five principles.

Visit the 'knowledge hub' featuring these examples of notable practice, as a learning resource for people working across the pharmacy sector. This will help to support continuous improvement across pharmacy for patients and the public.

Publication of inspection reports

We are now publishing reports from pharmacy inspections that have taken place since April 2019. Before an inspection report is published, it goes through a quality assurance process. The pharmacy owner or superintendent pharmacist will be given an opportunity to review the report and check its factual accuracy before the report is finalised.

See our flowchart on the process for drafting and finalising a report prior its publication. [PDF 853 KB]

Review of overall outcome of the inspection process

Pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists can ask for a formal review of the overall outcome of an inspection where they consider that the evidence does not support the outcome.

The owner or superintendent must complete this form requesting a review and send by it email to: inspectionreviews@pharmacyregulation.org within 5 working days of receipt of the final report. [On click the form will attempt to download automatically].

See our flowchart on the process for a formal review of the overall outcome of the inspection process [PDF 912 KB]

We have also produced a guide to this review process. [PDF 378 KB]

Improvement action plans

We require improvement action plans to be filled in by the owner and superintendent pharmacist and returned to us. The inspector will already have identified whether the improvement action in relation to each standard, must be completed within 10, 20 or 60 working days. The pharmacy owner and superintendent will identify when the actions will be completed within these timescales and who will be responsible for this. Pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists will be expected to action their improvements as soon as possible, especially where a risk to patient safety has been identified.

The pharmacy would be expected to tell us within 5 days of the action they intend to take to meet the standards and improve practice in the pharmacy. We will consider some flexibility in this timescale if there are exceptional reasons why this deadline cannot be met.

Improvement action plans are published on this website alongside the inspection report. Search for your local pharmacy to find out if it has a published report and an action plan.

Next steps

When the actions set out in the improvement action plan have been completed, the owner or superintendent pharmacist must notify us. Once the inspector is satisfied that evidence has been provided that indicates completion of the improvement action plan, a new inspection will be scheduled six months from the date when the inspection report was sent to the owner.

At the six-month inspection, the inspector will visit the pharmacy again to assess whether the pharmacy is meeting the standards and that the improvements are being sustained. If that is the case, then we will issue an updated report with the new overall outcome showing that the pharmacy has met all of the standards. This report will be published on the inspection publication website, once it has been through the usual pre-publication process.

The previous inspection report(s) would be available in a section showing previous inspection history within each pharmacy detail page.

See our flowchart showing the process we follow when a pharmacy has not met all of the standardsb> [PDF 519 KB]

In situations when a pharmacy owner does not complete an improvement action plan we use our statutory enforcement powers . Enforcement notices are also published on this website along with the pharmacy’s inspection report.

Helpful resources

Visit our 'Helpful resources' page on our main website for further information on our approach to inspections and how we make decisions during inspections. You will also find relevant policies and contact details for our inspection team.