Almost 150 pharmacists in the UK have been reprimanded for providing poor care over the past year, MailOnline can reveal.
Nine were subject to enforcement action for violating strict regulatory guidelines.
One of them, Allcures pharmacy in South Ockendon, Essex, carried out inadequate safety checks before distributing “high risk” medicines, leaving patients “prone to abuse, misuse and overuse”.
Another, Burwash Pharmacy in Hove, Sussex, posed a “serious risk to patient safety” due to its “inadequate” risk management and safeguarding around the online prescribing of medicines, including for weight loss.
MailOnline has marked all 143 offending chemicals on an interactive map.
The more than 750 pharmacies that have been reviewed are also listed in the table below, allowing you to see exactly how they are judged by the regulator.
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Our analysis follows a major effort to ease pressure on GPs by encouraging Brits to go straight to their pharmacist.
Under successful NHS plans designed to free up millions of doctors’ appointments, chemists have been given new powers to hand out prescriptions for seven common ailments.
It means patients struggling with minor illnesses, such as a sore throat or earache, can now avoid their GP.
The Prime Minister, whose mother ran her local pharmacy in Southampton, called the scheme a “mini revolution in high street healthcare”.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) carries out regular inspections of the country’s more than 11,000 pharmacies.
It rates them with an overall result, either ‘standards met’ or ‘standards not all met’, based on five categories.
These are governance, staffing, premises, services and equipment.
All standards will need to be met for a pharmacy to receive a standards compliance result.
When guidelines are broken, pharmacies receive an action plan directing them to improve.
Additional enforcement action may then be taken against pharmacies that do not renew their services after six months.
This may include imposing conditions on premises that distribute drugs.
In extreme circumstances, pharmacies may be forced to stop selling prescription medications.
All 143 pharmacies are considered to have not met standards They are marked in orange on our map, which can be zoomed in and out.
Nine of the total (marked in red) were subject to coercive measures by the GPhC.
All inspection reports included in MailOnline’s analysis were published between February 1, 2023 and February 1, 2024.
Some of the inspections themselves would have been carried out before February 2023 due to the time that can elapse between the inspection and the publication of the report.
This means that some of the reports from listed pharmacies that have had a ‘not all standards met’ may not be their most recent GPhC inspection.
They may have since reviewed their services to the GPhC’s satisfaction.
Gareth Jones, director of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association, told MailOnline: ‘The vast majority of pharmacies meet the GPhC’s demanding standards.
‘Of those considered not to be fully compliant, most of the issues are administrative and do not affect patients.
‘The overwhelming majority of problems are rectified quickly and the need for enforcement is very rare.
“Of course, patient safety is everyone’s top priority, so we work with our members every day to ensure they are safe and reliable at all times and meet the extremely high standards rightly set by regulators.”
Burwash pharmacy (pictured) in Hove, Sussex, posed a “serious risk to patient safety” due to its “inadequate” risk management and safeguarding around the online prescribing of medicines, including for weight loss .
Allcures Pharmacy online pharmacy (pictured) in South Ockendon, Essex – carried out inadequate safety checks before distributing ‘high risk’ medicines, leaving patients ‘prone to abuse, misuse and overuse’.
Under NHS plans to free up millions of GP appointments, pharmacists can hand out contraceptive pills to women. High street pharmacists also now have powers to dispense prescriptions for common ailments, meaning patients battling minor illnesses can avoid their GP. Under broader plans, pharmacists will offer more blood pressure checks to at-risk patients, with a commitment to carry out 2.5 million a year by spring 2025.
Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, told MailOnline: ‘It is worrying to see a small number of pharmacies failing to meet basic standards, giving a bad name to the vast majority of them who do a brilliant job offering walk-in healthcare on our high streets.
“The government needs to do more to ensure rules are followed, as well as to prevent pharmacy closures that are leaving some communities without easy access to the medicines and health advice they need.”
Of the 143 reprimanded sites whose reports were published, 118 were brick-and-mortar pharmacies, while 25 were Internet or distance-selling pharmacies.
Online pharmacies account for just over three per cent of UK chemists, but accounted for 17 per cent of those that failed to meet the regulator’s standards.
The GPhC has long been concerned about the lack of “appropriate controls” and “failures”, such as over-prescribing, linked to internet-based pharmacies.
Last month, it revealed there were 263 open fitness to practice investigations involving online pharmacies, representing more than 18 per cent of its open caseload.
Since 2019, a total of 1,985 concerns relating to online pharmacies have been raised to fitness to practice cases, it added.
The GPhC receives an average of just under 3,000 complaints per year, meaning online pharmacies have accounted for around 13 per cent of all complaints recorded over the past five years.
A GPhC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We set standards for registered pharmacies in Britain and, when inspecting pharmacies, we assess whether they meet these standards.
‘The vast majority of pharmacies meet all standards when inspected.
‘A pharmacy that does not meet all standards will normally have to complete an improvement action plan and then be inspected again.
“We may use our enforcement powers if necessary changes are not made or in situations where there is a serious risk to patient safety.”
Between February 1, 2023 and February 2024, the GPhC carried out 120 routine inspections at community and online pharmacies, it added.
Of them, seven are no longer registered and 11 have been subject to coercive measures.
It comes as nine in ten chemists in England have signed up to the Pharmacy First scheme and have new powers to treat patients.
It will be offered in both traditional and online pharmacies, which will perform the service through a video appointment and deliver the prescription by mail.
Since December, pharmacists have also been given powers to distribute contraceptive pills to women.
A broader range of trained pharmacy staff can also provide the blood pressure monitoring service.
These additional responsibilities are designed to alleviate pressures on GPs.
However, in some parts of the country, pharmacies are already under attack and hundreds have been forced to close. Pharmaceutical bodies blame underfunding of the NHS, staff shortages and the deterioration of the GP service.
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Only 11,414 community pharmacies remain offering key NHS services, the lowest level since records began in 2015/16. According to statistics, almost 400 closed their doors in 2022/23 alone.
Real-time data from NHS England shows the count as of December 31, 2023 may be as few as 10,273.
Industry leaders have called the figures “alarming” and warned patients will be forced to make longer journeys to receive vital treatment or “miss out entirely”.
Meanwhile, the number of GPs has plummeted in recent years. In December there were 27,487 GPs, down 6.3 per cent (from 29,320) in 2016. This is despite the population growing by around 2 million over the same period.
This has led to an appointment crisis in general practice, with patients forced to endure the 8am rush: only four in 10 get same-day appointments and three in 10 are forced to wait more than a week, according to the latest data.
Others must complete an online e-consultation to even get to your practice in the first place.
It has forced the Government to look for solutions, such as the introduction of new telephone lines to facilitate contact with practices and the Pharmacy First programme, in a bid to alleviate demand for GPs.
Members of the Pharmacists Defense Association, which represents thousands of pharmacists in the UK, also revealed that they are concerned that the “hasty launch” of the scheme will result in an increase in violence and abuse by the public, whose expectations will have increased. .
NHS England only made the software needed to operate available to pharmacies on Wednesday, the day it was launched, the union said.