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NHS to investigate pharmacists for false service payment 'scams'

DH: Large scale scams by a minority of pharmacists are contributing to the total fraud bill

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has announced a “drive” to uncover pharmacists claiming payments for services they have not carried out.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority and the NHS Business Services Authority will share pharmacy data to crack down on “large-scale scams” by “a minority of pharmacists and dentists”, which are “impacting heavily” on the total fraud bill in England, the DH announced yesterday (October 14).

It gave the example of a pharmacist in north London who was handed a 12-month prison sentence and £45,000 fine after “abusing the prescriptions system, including repeat prescriptions”.

The drive to spot pharmacists wrongly claiming payments is part of the DH’s wider crackdown on NHS fraud to prevent up to £300 million being stolen by April 2020, it said.

The crackdown includes digitising prescription exemptions to allow pharmacies to check whether patients are exempt before medication is dispensed.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the initiative is sending a “clear message” that the NHS is “no longer an easy target”.

“We are determined to make sure every penny of the extra funding we are giving the NHS as part of our long-term plan is properly spent,” he said.

“If you try to steal from it, you will face the consequences,” Mr Hancock added.

9 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the announcement?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

EPS could also implement a universal ordering system. Unless it's manually recorded locally, a pharmacy has no way of checking what has been ordered by patient, surgery, hospital, or pharmacy.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""example of a pharmacist in north London who was handed a 12-month prison sentence and £45,000 fine after “abusing the prescriptions system, including repeat prescriptions”.""

Any link to this case?? Would be interesting check what fraud happened to get 12 months prison sentence and £ 45,000 in fine, unless this bloke was selling fake viagras and CDs/ antibiotics without scripts.

Paul Guest, Manager

It is quite an old case from 2009 which involved stolen prescriptions from GP surgeries and medicines being requested on repeat prescription without patient knowledge. Don't know why it is being brought up as an example now.

A B, Community pharmacist

And the offences actually took place a couple of years before sentencing. So they are referencing events that took place 12-13 years ago. That's the sort of relevant thinking that DOH applies to pharmacy, a quick google search and reference the first story that comes up.

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

Ooooh! Surprise ! How come this well paid well respected well appreciated lot are turning to common thievery just to survive ? Any thoughts DH?

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

with electronic scripts one now gets a lot of information about the patient so why not include their exemption status . that should have been the aim when the system was introduced .

tushar trivedi, Locum pharmacist

I agree with your view. DHSC, NHS England and ICO can come up with a scheme to make this a reality. 

david williams, Community pharmacist

Probably dose cost a lot to police, maybe more than they prevent / uncover. However, you must send a strong message and be seen to be "out there"

Dave Downham, Manager

Sledgehammer and nuts? Would be interesting to know what the counter fraud team costs and how widespread and costly this malpractice is.

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