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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Preparing for the NHSE Pharmacy First service

Pharmacy type


Pharmacy context

This is a busy community pharmacy in a residential area on the outskirts of a big city. People using the pharmacy are from the local community and home delivery service is available. The pharmacy dispenses NHS prescriptions and it provides a wide range of other NHS funded services including treatments for minor ailments, seasonal flu vaccinations, COVID vaccinations, sexual health services and blood pressure testing. Private services are also available.

Relevant standards

  • 4.1 - The pharmacy services provided are accessible to patients and the public

Why this is notable practice

The pharmacy is well-prepared for the launch of the new NHSE Pharmacy First service. And it assesses and addresses the risks and barriers to providing a safe and efficient service well. It works in partnership with local stakeholders to help the service run smoothly for the people using it.

How the pharmacy did this

The superintendent pharmacist (SI) reviewed information about the new NHSE Pharmacy First service as soon as NHSE released it. They used the information to create an action plan. This covered areas such as training for the whole team, stakeholder engagement, what the patient journey would look like, and whether there were any barriers to delivering the service. The SI engaged the whole pharmacy team from the beginning by discussing the action plan with team members. They were keen to be involved and explored how they could minimise the impact of the new service on the pharmacy’s existing services. The SI had undertaken an informal risk assessment of the new service and had a plan, before the new service commenced, to formalise it using the pharmacy’s risk assessment template.

The team identified possible barriers that were within its control and started work to address these. The pharmacy had a consultation room. But this was often occupied due to the volume of other services the pharmacy offered. So, the SI arranged with local contractors to install a second consultation room to create additional capacity. A new vinyl window display had been ordered and NHSE Pharmacy First was one of the services advertised on the display. The pharmacy had two additional telephone lines installed as the team foresaw an increase in telephone queries about the new service. This meant that people calling the pharmacy would be able to speak to a team member promptly and existing services would not be impacted.

Pharmacists had read and signed the patient group directions (PGDs) to support them in supplying treatment to people through the service. And all team members had familiarised themselves with the service specification and had access to these documents to refer to. Pharmacists attended an external training course which had included training on consultation skills, and how to use an otoscope. A part-time pharmacist had increased their working hours to provide additional cover so dispensing could continue efficiently and allow the pharmacy to focus on other services including NHSE Pharmacy First. The SI had met with practice managers from local surgeries to give them information about the service and answer any questions they had. They also used these visits as an opportunity to explore if a person needed a GP referral how this should be made.

What difference this made to patients

People can benefit from a new NHSE service, designed to help provide improved access to care from pharmacists, whilst freeing up GP appointments. And due to effective planning, the pharmacy is able to provide a safe and effective service from the day it launches. People using the pharmacy’s other services will continue to receive the same quality and efficient service due to the pharmacy acting proactively to review its facilities and skill mix.

Highlighted standards

We have identified the standards most likely and least likely to be met in inspections, and highlighted examples of notable practice for each of these standards; to help everyone learn from others and to support continuous improvement:

  1. 1.1 Risk management
  2. 1.2 Reviewing and monitoring the safety of services
  3. 4.2 Safe and effective service delivery
  4. 4.3 Sourcing and safe, secure management of medicines and devices
  5. 2.2 Staff skills and qualifications