A medicines home delivery company must undertake a "considerable amount of work" to address unresolved complaints about missed deliveries, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.
Healthcare at Home, which cares for more than 150,000 people across the UK, was reprimanded by the GPhC in April after an inspection found it was "insufficiently prepared" to deal with an increased number of patients. This had resulted in patients being left "confused and uncertain" about why their complaints about late and failed medicines deliveries were not being dealt with.
The company was ordered to remedy the situation by ensuring it had the capacity to deal with extra patients and complaints, but a further inspection three months later found that it needed to make "further progress" to create contingency plans, the GPhC said on Monday (September 1).
Although Healthcare at Home had made "some progress" in implementing the GPhC's recommendations, it still needed to eliminate the backlog of complaints and ensure the risks to patients caused by the late delivery of medicines were "recorded, monitored and acted on", the regulator said.
In its initial inspection in April, the GPhC found that Healthcare at Home was unprepared to deal with the "significant changes" of taking responsibility for an increased number of patients and transferring medicine distribution arrangements to another provider. The company's customer service team had been "overwhelmed" by complaints about late deliveries, some of which were left unresolved, it said.
The GPhC noted that, since its first inspection, the number of complaints had "stabilised" and there were more staff available to answer telephone calls from patients who had not received their medicines on time. The company had issued more guidance to staff to ensure they followed the correct processes and more data was being collected to assess risks, the GPhC said.
But the company still needed to ensure that any changes to its arrangements for delivering medicines to patients and its capacity to take on more patients or services was assessed "much more robustly", the regulator said. It recommended the company ensure patients could receive up-to-date information on their deliveries and that it create adequate contingency plans to maintain its service at times of increased workload.
The GPhC expected the company to implement the recommendations "swiftly" and would conduct a further inspection in two months to assess Healthcare at Home's progress, it added.