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‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs

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Mark Platt
Member
Posts: 290
‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Posted on: June 3 2014, 11:27 am

Report by Bureau of Investigative Journalism

See: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/06/02/appalling-service-provided-by-healthcare-at-home-leaves-patients-without-drugs/

Thousands of NHS patients, some seriously ill, have not received vital medicines on time because of problems at the company contracted to deliver the drugs to these patients in their own homes.

The failures in the service offered by private contractor, Healthcare at Home, have been described by patient groups as ‘appalling’ and ‘unsafe’, and have left patients with live-threatening conditions frightened about their ability to get hold of their drugs.

After a flood of complaints the pharmacy watchdog was invited by Healthcare at Home to investigate the service and has now given the company three months to sort out its problems.

Healthcare at Home dispenses and delivers more than 1 million prescriptions annually to over 150,000 patients who are suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, haemophilia, HIV and multiple sclerosis, or who are receiving fertility treatment or drugs following organ transplants.

The company delivers drugs to these patients’ homes. Over the last six months a number of issues have affected this service. The company admits that over seven percent of the company’s patients have been left waiting at home for vital medicines that failed to arrive at the scheduled time. Some have not received their medication in time.

Affected patients have further had to endure unacceptably lengthy waits on the company’s clogged phone lines to rearrange the deliveries.

In April at the request of the company the General Pharmaceutical Council, which regulates pharmacists, inspected Healthcare at Home with inspectors from the Care Quality Commission.

The inspection found that a ‘proportion of patients did not receive their medicines at the scheduled time. The consequent telephone enquiries from these patients overwhelmed Healthcare at Home’s customer service team. This led to complaints being unresolved and patients being left confused and uncertain about when and whether their medication would arrive.

‘While a number of measures had been taken by the time of the inspection…  Healthcare at Home needed to do more to remedy the situation,’ the Council concluded. The watchdog has ordered the company to fix the issues effecting its service within three months.

The GPhC put the problems down to two key issues: the outsourcing of distribution arrangements to another company in an attempt to extend its service to include weekend and evening deliveries, and the addition of almost 3,000 extra patients which it took over after another provider withdrew from the market. In addition the company claimed it had problems in November with the supply of a particular drug.

The company said it was working hard to address the issues and had increased its customer service staff by more than 60%.
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Posts: 122
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Reply #1 on: June 3 2014, 11:48 am

I just wanted to let any patients who experience any difficulty with Healthcare at homes', home delivery service and are seen at Chelsea & Westminster (Kobler Clinic, 56 Dean Street or the Nkosi Johnson Unit at Charing Cross Hospital) can ask the clinic pharmacy to move them over to Alcura.

Alcura can deliver to home, work, several local Boots and by special delivery. They also offer delivery on Tuesday Evenings (in my area) 6:00 - 7:00 pm and can arrange deliveries on Saturday mornings from 7:30 - 10:30 am.

I have had some issues with Healthcare at home and the Kobler pharmacy team moved my over to Alcura without question or difficulty.

Kind Regards,

Paul.
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Roger Pebody
Member
Posts: 91
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Reply #2 on: June 3 2014, 11:50 am

Has anyone else had (or heard of) problems in relation to delivery of HIV meds by this company?
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Posts: 122
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Reply #3 on: June 3 2014, 12:03 pm

Hi Rodger,

They are in a real mess. Overloaded with demand and then as the report mentioned another home delivery company pulled out of the market so that companies customers got split up with the two(?) remaining service providers. I can't help wondering what the home delivery CQUIN may have contributed to this problem.

To give you a direct example, Healthcare At Home took over two weeks to call me to arrange my delivery and then the medication failed to arrive TWICE. I always try to keep a months supply of my medication but I had to use all my reserves and get an additional prescription dispensed from the Kobler. Having not received my medications in over six weeks I made the move to Alcura.
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Robert James
Member
Posts: 124
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home
Reply #4 on: June 3 2014, 12:10 pm

Not HIV meds but Healthcare at Home deliver (well are meant to) my haemophilia treatment.  They sent me a letter before Christmas saying they had had problems, I think they blamed it on a new computer system but I might have got that wrong provided an email address to write if there were any problems. I had had no problems at that stage but since Christmas it has been a bit of a mess.  I changed to deliveries every 3 months before an operation, I can't walk to the front door for 3 months so no point having monthly deliveries, which was fine on their computer but they only delivered one months worth.  So I asked for the other two months worth and they delivered it the drugs but none of the equipment I need to administer it (syringes, needles, etc).  The emergency deliveries that came through the post office were actually more convenient for me than the normal deliveries as I could collect from the sorting office if out.

I have not rung them for months as not needed to but it never got answered at the start of the year and it worked much better when I emailed them and they rang me back one or two days later.  You obviously need to have a weeks worth of treatment to do this though.
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John Holland
Member
Posts: 21
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Reply #5 on: June 3 2014, 01:27 pm

Interesting.  I was raising these issues long ago... YEARS AGO.. I was bad mouthed for doing so.  The culprits know who they are.  The commissioners denied there was an issue even when we were able to provide documentary evidence of the existence of problems at EVERY clinic and not just with one provider.

Home Delivery is a scam to avoid tax. The real solution is and always was to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to eliminate a ludicrous tax issue.  All this process does is to increase the real cost of drugs distribution, impoverish clinic pharmacy facilities and reduce the level of service.

Feedback South London (now Feedback London) was years ahead of everyone yet again.
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Munasimenda Kanyama
Member
Posts: 5
Re: ‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs
Reply #6 on: June 3 2014, 10:09 pm

This happened to me, they failed to deliver the meds on three occasions in March this year 2014, l ended up running out of meds for three days because the third delivery time was a Friday between 1pm - 6 pm and after 6 pm they were nowhere to be seen. I ended up phoning the hospital the next Monday to complain and prescribe emergency drugs which were only ready the next day Tuesday.
I complained to them and never got back to me up to now. My next hospital appointment is in July and l will argue that l cannot use Healthcare at Home anymore no matter how cheap they are.
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