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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Weaknesses in the identification and management of risks to patient safety.

Pharmacy type

Internet / Distance Selling

Pharmacy context

This is a pharmacy which offers its services to people at a distance though its website. It also provides healthcare advice to people over the telephone. The pharmacy dispenses NHS prescriptions. There is no public access to the pharmacy premises. People receive their medicine by delivery.

Relevant standards

  • 1.1 - The risks associated with providing pharmacy services are identified and managed
  • 1.6 - All necessary records for the safe provision of pharmacy services are kept and maintained
  • 1.7 - Information is managed to protect the privacy, dignity and confidentiality of patients and the public who receive pharmacy services

Why this is poor practice

The pharmacy has not risk assessed how some parts of the pharmacy service provided by a third-party supplier are managed. Nor does it monitor information provided on its website. This means that there is little assurance that the pharmacy is protecting the safety and wellbeing of people who may access its services through the website.

What the shortcomings are

The pharmacy offered medicines for sale through its website. A third‐party registered pharmacy fulfilled these orders. The pharmacy’s website displayed the mandatory European common logo for selling medicines on each page. Clicking on the logo provided details of the third‐party pharmacy fulfilling the orders. The website allowed sale of over‐the‐counter medicines only. But a section labelled ‘Vet Prescriptions’ allowed people to add prescription only medicines to their basket, including some schedule three controlled drugs. The pharmacy had no regular monitoring processes in place for the website. The team were not aware of the new guidance published by the GPhC relating to registered pharmacies providing services at a distance, including over the internet. The guidance introduced new safeguards relating to pharmacies selling prescription only medicines over the internet.

What improvements are required

The pharmacy should review its compliance with GPhC guidance on providing services at a distance, ensuring all services, including those provided by third parties are subject to a risk assessmet. This is to ensure the safety of people using the pharmacy's services.

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