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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Providing an easily accessible ear wax removal and ear problem referral service

Pharmacy type

Internet / Distance Selling

Pharmacy context

Thisis a distance selling pharmacy. The pharmacy dispenses and delivers NHSprescriptions. People can also attend the pharmacy for a variety of servicessuch as ear wax removal, blood pressure checks and travel vaccinations.

Relevant standards

  • 1.8 - Children and vulnerable adults are safeguarded
  • 4.1 - The pharmacy services provided are accessible to patients and the public

Why this is notable practice

The pharmacy offers an ear wax removal service which people can access with ease through an online booking system. It is making the service available in the local area at a time when people cannot access it easily at their GP surgeries. And so, it is reducing pressures on NHS services. And people receive more timely treatment for their ear wax.

How the pharmacy did this

The pharmacy managed the service in an integrated way. And people received timely, on-going treatment for their ear wax problems. A team member had completed an accredited training course. This included face-to-face training with a specialist audiology team. And before completing the training they had to perform the technique successfully, under supervision, on a number of volunteers before being assessed as competent. This had to include several volunteers with impacted wax. The pharmacy also had a standard operating procedure (SOP) to follow. The SOP and training for the service had been supplied by an external company with the appropriate expertise.

The equipment used for the service included a device that could capture images of the inside of the ear. And the software used was continually updated. The pharmacy used a clean, disposable ear applicator for each ear. And it cleaned the equipment after each use. The team referred people to their GP or to another healthcare provider if the service was not suitable for them. Or if there were signs of ear infection, or other problems unrelated to ear wax. The pharmacy recorded its findings on a patient medical record system. And it had systems for contacting ear, nose, and throat specialists if it had a query about a particular case. Or if it needed further expertise and support.

The pharmacy had identified cases where impacted ear wax had contributed to people’s hearing loss and confusion. And by providing the service it had been able to improve this for people. By interacting closely with people, the team felt better able to able to recognise and act on any safeguarding concerns. And signpost people to the most appropriate services.

What difference this made to patients

People can receive timely, on-going treatment for their ear wax problems. And they are appropriately and quickly signposted to another service if problems are identified such as an ear infection. Having had the appropriate treatment to remove ear wax, people’s hearing is improved. And they are relieved of potential complications such dizziness, tinnitus, earache, and itching.

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