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Regulator gives Healthcare at Home until July to sort medicines supply

Healthcare at Home website

Healthcare at Home was inspected in April by the General Pharmaceutical Council and other regulators

A home delivery medicine service with responsibility for more than 150,000 patients has been given until July by pharmacy regulators to regain order after patients were left without supplies or faced delayed deliveries.

Healthcare at Home was unable to cope with demand after it transferred its pharmacy distribution to a new provider and took on a number of new patients, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

When the delivery system broke down patients were unable to get through to its customer services telephone line because it was “overwhelmed” with calls, the pharmacy regulator revealed. Patients were left “confused and uncertain” about whether their medicines would arrive and their complaints remained unresolved, it said on Tuesday (3 June 2014).

The GPhC statement follows its investigation into the company — which annually deals with one million prescriptions — earlier this year. Following complaints about Healthcare at Home it carried out a joint inspection of the company in April with the Care Quality Commission, NHS England and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“The inspection found that Healthcare at Home were insufficiently prepared for two significant changes. As a result, a proportion of patients did not receive their medicines at the scheduled time,” it said. Even though the company took on more call centre staff and prioritised deliveries according to clinical need, it still “needed to do more” to solve its problems, the GPhC said.

In a statement on its website, Healthcare at Home apologised for the service disruption, which it attributed to an “IT issue”.

Its clinical director Ruth Poole explained that problems arose after it transferred its logistics and deliveries to a new provider, Movianto, because it wanted to extend its service to weekends and evenings.

“Despite extensive planning and testing, the transition this March has caused problems for our patients and it has been painful. In the long-term, however, this extension will mean a stronger, more flexible and more patient-centric homecare service,” she said. “We regret that the delivery and customer support service some of our patients have been receiving is unsatisfactory. We are currently working hard with Movianto to resolve this.”

The GPhC will conduct a follow-up visit in July to identify whether the necessary improvements have been made.

• This article was amended on 6 June 2014 to clarify the nature of the GPhC’s follow-up visit.

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138888

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