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NHS to ‘scrutinise’ 44 pharmacies’ pandemic delivery service claims

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) is writing to 44 pharmacies that submitted a higher-than-expected number of claims for the pandemic delivery service, PSNC has said.

The “post-payment verification process” will be carried out for the “advance service component” of the pandemic delivery service, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) stated in an update on its website yesterday (May 6).

Introduced in April last year for extremely vulnerable patients who were self-isolating as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the service is currently available until June 30 for people who have been notified of the need to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

More than 8,000 pharmacies have offered deliveries under the advanced arm of the service between April and December 2020, “at a cost of just under £15 million”, according to PSNC.

While most of the claims submitted by pharmacies “were at levels to be expected”, a “very small number were higher than might be expected”, PSNC said.

“NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has decided to scrutinise these,” PSNC added.

NHS BSA will carry out these checks, and it “is in the process of writing to the 44 pharmacies identified to date”.

NHS BSA confirmed to C+D that it is currently “engaging” with 44 contractors across England.

“Contractors may be requested to provide evidence to substantiate their claims,” it added.

Potential reasons for higher-than-expected claims

In some cases, contractors might have claimed more in error, or “for the delivery of medicines dispensed by another pharmacy”, PSNC said.

“PSNC has been consulted on the proposed verification process and has sought to ensure the process is appropriately targeted, proportionate and fair to those contractors asked to provide records, as well as fair to the commissioner and public purse,” the negotiator added.

Contractors who are contacted by NHS BSA should liaise with them directly, but PSNC can offer support, it said.

C+D reported last month that the NHS Counter Fraud Authority is reviewing “some possible threats and vulnerabilities within the pandemic delivery service”.

In response to a written question in parliament, pharmacy minister Jo Churchill said on March 23 that pharmacy contractors and dispensing doctors had claimed for 3,477,259 deliveries to shielded patients between April and December 2020.

Has the pandemic delivery service been popular in your pharmacy?

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