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Volunteers delivering medication could pose fraud risk, PSNC warns

Simon Dukes: Lack of clarity on delivery service is "extremely unhelpful"
Simon Dukes: Lack of clarity on delivery service is "extremely unhelpful"

NHS England’s use of volunteers to deliver medicines to patients could be exploited by “fraudsters”, the PSNC has warned.

NHS England’s “volunteer army” will be set to work delivering medicines from community pharmacies to so-called “shielded” patients from today (April 7), but the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes has warned that the system may be open to exploitation.

Over 750,000 people signed up as NHS England volunteers to help out with the effort to fight COVID-19, and “come to the aid of 2.5 million at-risk people”

Thousands of volunteers will be “offered tasks” from today via the GoodSam app, the official smartphone application for the scheme, NHS England said.

However, fraudsters could “use this system to their own ends”, Mr Dukes said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

Individuals may do this by “gaining trust, gaining information on people and using it to exploit those people who are shielded and locked away in their own homes”, he warned.

C+D has contacted NHS England for a response to Mr Duke’s comments.

“Incredibly frustrating process”

The PSNC is “still in active negotiations” with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) about the delivery service, it said today.

Mr Dukes described the negotiations as an “incredibly frustrating process” that has taken “far longer” than the PSNC wanted it to.

“The lack of clarity is extremely unhelpful for contractors, who we know are facing increasing demands for deliveries from patients,” he added.

The organisation has “considerable concerns about the potential risks of using volunteers to deliver medicines to vulnerable people”, Mr Dukes said.

He added that the PSNC is “continuing to work hard to find a way forward that allows pharmacies to work collaboratively” with the volunteers, “the vast majority of whom are selflessly offering their own time to support the NHS”.

Contractor Mike Hewitson has expressed concern about the service in a C+D blog, while legal expert David Reissner has drafted a template letter than NHS England can give to volunteers.

4 Comments
Question: 
Would you use volunteers to deliver medicines to shielded patients?

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

VERY SIMPLE SOLUTION....STOP DELIVERING TO ALL PATIENTS ... TELL THEM IT IS NOT FUNDED OR SAFE FOR YOUR STAFF...ASK THEIR VOLUNTEERS TO COME IN AND COLLECT ALL PRESCRIPTIONS...PROBLEM SOLVED... OF COURSE THIS WONT HAPPEN AS WE ARE  A CARING PROFESSION WHO HAVE ALWAYS DONE THINGS FOR FREE ...MAYBE THEN NHSE MIGHT NOTICE HOW MUCH WE HAVE BENT OVER BACKWARDS FOR THEM DURING THESE DESPERATE TIMES

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Three weeks into shielding and they are still in "active negotiations" about a paid delivery service.  This beggars belief!  I still suspect that for "paid delivery service" read "have a free volunteer"!

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

In my opinion, the NHSE&I know that the Pharmacies will inadvertently do the deliveries for free when patients start pestering them. So why pay? This is the same Govt. which wanted to close more than 3000 pharmacies and now they are forcing all Pharmacies to open on Bank Holidays. WOW simply WOW.

O J, Community pharmacist

I stated earlier, that Keith Ridge who headed the governments' agends of closing down 3000 pharmacies should respectfully admit that he never accounted for the risk of a pandemic. He got it wrong and should do the right thing and hand his resignation. 

Just tell the patients there is no funding for free deliveries.  

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