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Pharmacies scrapping deliveries could be behind 'handing out' errors

Additional workload pressure brought on by pharmacies restricting their delivery services could be contributing to errors as medicines are handed out to patients.

Approximately 50% of the errors reported to the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) in the three months to September involved mistakes as medicines were handed out to patients, the association said in its latest Medication Safety Officer (MSO) report, published last week (October 31).

NPA director of pharmacy Leyla Hannbeck said the number of reports may “correlate to the fact that some pharmacy contractors are restricting their free medicines delivery services”.

This means “more people are collecting prescriptions directly from the pharmacy”, she explained, which “can lead to increased time pressures [and] stress for members of the pharmacy team, due to a busy workplace”.

In the three months to September, “a number of patients received medication not intended for them due to insufficient checks being made when handing out dispensed items”, Ms Hannbeck told C+D.

This included patients with the same or similar surnames inadvertently being given the wrong medicines “due to filing methods being insufficient”, and staff failing to ask for additional information, such as date of birth, when ascertaining the patient’s identity, she explained.

Restricted delivery services

In July, Rowlands announced it would scrap its free medicines delivery service for all but “the most vulnerable” housebound patients. It followed Lloydspharmacy’s announcement last November that it would start charging new customers for deliveries, in an effort to “take the lead” on the sector’s attitude towards this service.

Following Rowlands’ statement, Well announced in August that only patients who met its “inclusion criteria” would benefit from its free delivery service.

Almost one in four respondents to a C+D poll in August said their pharmacy already charges “some or all” of their patients for medicines deliveries, and 45% of respondents said they were “considering” it.

Has your opinion on charging for deliveries changed over the past year?

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