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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Promoting the return of unwanted medicines.

Pharmacy type


Pharmacy context

The pharmacy is in the centre of a village. The pharmacy’s main services include dispensing NHS prescriptions and selling over-the counter medicines. The pharmacy also supplies some medicines in multi-compartment compliance packs, designed to help people to take their medicines. 

Relevant standards

  • 4.1 - The pharmacy services provided are accessible to patients and the public
  • 4.3 - Medicines and medical devices are: obtained from a reputable source; safe and fit for purpose; stored securely; safeguarded from unauthorized access; supplied to the patient safely; and disposed of safely and securely

Why this is notable practice

The pharmacy’s team members provide people with information on the risks of disposing of medicines inappropriately. And they inform people about the importance of returning unwanted medicines, including used inhalers, to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

How the pharmacy did this

The pharmacy had provided people with health information relevant to the local population. It had a team member who led on issues about healthy living who supported other team members in promoting health campaigns. The pharmacy also had up-to-date and eye-catching health promotion displays in its public area to support these campaigns.

Recently, the pharmacy had received a report of a family pet being injured due to it chewing on a discarded inhaler in a local park. And it had also received a report of waste medicines being found in a bag in a public space. As part of the NHS Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS), the team had completed training about the release of powerful greenhouse gases when people disposed of inhalers incorrectly. And by engaging with people who used inhalers, it had applied this learning by explaining the importance of returning used inhalers back to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

The team had also been active in encouraging people to return their unwanted medicines to the pharmacy. And it had provided a leaflet when dispensing an inhaler to inform people about the risks to the environment of not disposing of used inhalers safely. It had also engaged in local social media groups to share information about the risks to the environment, people, and animals when medicine waste was disposed of inappropriately. The pharmacy had appropriate storage space for storing waste medicines prior to collection by a licensed waste contractor. And they felt that returns had increased following its active promotion of the risks to the local community.

What difference this made to patients

People are informed about how to manage their unwanted medicines and used inhalers. This helps to reduce the risk of waste medicines being disposed of incorrectly, risking the health of other people and animals. And it reduces harm to the environment.

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