Developing Quality Indicators

Developing Quality Indicators in Community Pharmacies and Dispensing Doctor Practices

  • Professor Marjorie Weiss, Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Medicine Use Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology University of Bath


The aim of our research is to develop indicators appropriate for measuring the quality of services provided by CPs and DDs. To do this we will first describe the kinds of pharmaceutical services that are available in CPs and DDs and identify areas of commonality between the two. We will do this by conducting a questionnaire survey of community pharmacies and dispensing doctor practices.


In recent years the NHS has been encouraging the provision of a variety of services by chemists (known as community pharmacies or CPs) in addition to the dispensing of prescriptions. These services include providing advice about medicines and healthy lifestyles and ensuring people with long-term conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, are taking their medications correctly. Some GP practices are allowed to dispense medicines to patients who live more than one mile away from a community pharmacy – these are called dispensing doctor practices or DDs. Dispensing doctor practices can also offer medicine reviews and healthy living advice, like CPs, and so there is some overlap between the services provided by DDs and CPs. To ensure patients are receiving the best quality of care whether from a CP or a DD it is important that guidelines for best practice are shared.


In the second phase we will explore the nature of the services provided by CPs and DDs in more depth. For example we will investigate why variations in the type and nature of services occur and try to find out the unique benefits of each type of provider. We will also try to see if there might be any difficulties in putting into practice a range of quality indicators in these settings. We will do this by looking very closely at 3-4 dispensing doctor practices and 3-4 community pharmacies – this is called case study research. We will observe how they provide their services, the kinds of records they keep and we will interview both staff and people (patients and customers) who use the services. This will give us 6-8 detailed case-studies, which will help us to understand how similar or different dispensing doctor practices and community pharmacies are and the various factors that need to be taken into account for each when assessing how they provide pharmaceutical services.

The final stage of our research is concerned with identifying the areas where these quality indicators would be most appropriate and how we might measure these. We will do this by consulting with doctors and pharmacists as well as patients and customers of CPs and DDs. We will consult with people either face-to-face or by using the internet to try to get as many views as possible.


The main output of our research will be the identification of indicators or quality markers for pharmaceutical services in DDs and CPs. Other outputs will include the identification of the potential barriers to getting these indicators into practice, and a greater understanding of each provider setting and their unique strengths. In the long term these indicators could inform the contracts with CPs and DDs about how pharmaceutical services should be provided and will help to make sure that a high standard of service can be offered at both settings.

This project is now complete – see the full report.