There is no need for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to change its standards to better regulate pharmacies as the current framework is adequate to cover all forms of services being provided by pharmacies, says Claire Bryce-Smith, GPhC director for insight, intelligence and inspections.

Speaking at the fifth Sigma webinar held last week, Bryce-Smith said: “We are very much aware that pharmacies are delivering more clinical services and will be (doing) increasingly so as part of pharmacy contracts.

“We have been doing (regulation) quite a lot using our own standards framework to a certain extent, and that standards framework can be applied to any type of service.”

Under the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF), community pharmacies are providing a wide range of services to patients, and earlier this year two new advanced services: smoking cessation and hypertension case-finding, were added to their portfolio.

Bryce-Smith said that GPhC, which regulates both pharmacies and pharmacy professionals, has been expanding to increase specialism in the spectrum.

“We now have independent prescribers, who are full time members of staff specialist inspectors, and we’re growing the numbers of those as well, because it’s obviously a broader range of skill sets and experienced people who are practicing.”

On the regulatory principle of GPhC she said it is “very much under the umbrella vision 2030. And this is all about delivering safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities.”

GPhC’s regulation is focused on outcome and plays a key role to support improvement in the quality of services provided by pharmacies.

Every pharmacy on the GPhC register needs to follow the set standards every day, she added.

In all, the regulator has 26 standards under the five principles, which covers everything from the traditional delivery service from pharmacies to the patients’ home care.

Bryce-Smith said that at the time of inspection of registered pharmacies, the regulator looks at the scope of service which covers the type of operation model, medicine supply and variety of services being offered. After identifying these heads, it analyses to what extent a pharmacy meets the set standards.

She, however, noted that models have become a bit complex with the onset of online services.

She also highlighted some issues picked up during inspections, relating to the quality of packaging and with reverse logistics in case of returns. Therefore, the regulator is working on improving the delivery system.

She added: “We are aware of changing models, and we’re keeping pace with those changing models of service delivery.”

Besides “we are looking to collect notable practice examples. For us notable practices are not only good and excellent examples. It’s also a poor practice examples”.

Collecting such examples will help in understanding good practices in different models of pharmacy delivery.

The GPhC is also working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in areas such as transportation to understand different approaches to regulation “which will help us to regulate better,” Bryce-Smith said.

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