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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Safely managing returned medicines from residential care homes

Pharmacy type


Pharmacy context


Relevant standards

  • 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 is assessing and managing the risk associated with accepting returned medicines from residential care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How the pharmacy did this

The pharmacy had continued to accept people’s returned medicines from the residential homes for continuity of service. It had considered the risk associated with transferring and managing the returned medicines between the pharmacy and care homes.

The care home kept the medicines separate for seven to ten days. These were then transferred to the pharmacy's delivery driver at the care home door. The driver had personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear. These returned medicines collections were transported at a different time of day from other deliveries.

Once the driver returned the medicines to the pharmacy, he took them into the attic area of the pharmacy where they were stored separately for a further seven to ten days. The date of return was annotated on the returned medicines. The medicinal waste bins had recently changed and were larger, so the medicines could be placed directly in the bins, with minimum handling by team members. And in accordance with the joint guidance on dealing with patient-returned/ unwanted medicines written by the National Pharmacy Association, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group.

What difference this made to patients

The risk to pharmacy team members has been appropriately minimised due to the change in procedures for accepting returned medicines from care homes.

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