Pharmacist delivering medicine during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has identified 44 pharmacies that could have made excessive claims over pandemic delivery service.

As part of the investigation, the NHSBSA is “in the process of writing” to these pharmacies as it starts “undertaking a post-payment verification process” for the ‘advanced service’ component of medicines delivery which was introduced in April last year to support patients who were shielding during the initial Covid-19 lockdown.

The pandemic delivery service included an ‘essential service’ which was responding to and identifying those in need of deliveries as well as a medicines delivery advanced service which focused on community pharmacy contractors who delivered dispensed medicines to eligible patients, sometimes on behalf of other contractors.

The post-payment verification process only deals with the advanced service, which, over a period of nine months, has successfully helped clinically vulnerable patients to shield, where a volunteer was not available to collect medicines on their behalf.

Data on the delivery service has shown that over 8,000 pharmacies provided the advanced service from its start until December 2020, at a cost of just under £15 million.

While the vast majority of payment claims were at levels to be expected from pharmacies, a very small number were higher than might be expected which is now been scrutinised by the NHS England along with NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

The Pharmaceutical Negotiating Committee (PSNC) acknowledges that “while the high claims may be due, for example, to contractor error, they may also be due to a pharmacy undertaking and claiming for the delivery of medicines dispensed by another pharmacy.

“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).”

Pharmacies were asked to maintain appropriate records to support claims and possible post-payment verification of those claims.

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