An NHS Licence to Make Money

“Just sign here” Kerching!

Duped by the Pharmacist

Lugosi, Going Postal

We are constantly facing depleted NHS resources based on funding not keeping pace with what needs to be spent. Today I discovered a drain on NHS money that I don’t think has ever been reported. It has resulted in a pharmacist being reprimanded for unprofessional conduct and the discovery that the kindly behaviour by the pharmacist in discussing your medication is, in fact, money in their pocket, your NHS money.

I picked up my regular Metformin at the pharmacy and I was asked:-

“Can the pharmacist have a word about your medication?”.

I responded:-

“I really don’t have time but, I’ve only been taking this for at least 40 years and I’m curious to know what she wants to ask”.

They explain:-

“It’s just to make sure you are taking it correctly, that you know why you are taking it and if you have any problems taking it.”

I declined. I know all those things and I have no problems.

“OK. Would you mind just signing the form to say we discussed it?”

I sign and date the form. I know the pharmacists well and believe that this is just part of a customer service ethic. If they need a tick in their box then why not sign it for them?

A while later I thought about it. “Why did I have to sign the form? I wonder if they get paid for it?”, so I called customer services and spoke to a very professional pharmacy ethics person and asked if anyone gets paid for this interest in my medication. The answer is Yes!

It’s called MUR (Medicines Use Review & Prescription Intervention Service). It is fully described here MURs: the basics

Lugosi, Going Postal

The pharmacist gets money for performing MUR. By innocently signing the form the pharmacist gets some money from the NHS pot.

They have a target to query 70% of their customers who fall into special interest groups and who have been taking the drugs for more than 3 months, or are about to take a new drug,

The General Pharmaceutical Council regulates Pharmacies and Pharmacists

Lugosi, Going Postal

Lugosi, Going Postal

It was explained to me that the NHS funds a Community Healthcare initiative where money is allocated to pharmacies. They get paid if they carry out an MUR. To carry out an MUR according to the rules you must go to the consulting-room with the pharmacist who will conduct an interview and make notes. At the end of that interview you sign the form and they get paid. They are supposed to forward details of the interview to the GP if they think it relevant.

In my case I had no consultation and merely signed because I thought this was some target for the pharmacist. I didn’t know she was getting paid for my signature.

The outcome was that head office phoned the pharmacist to confirm my story and for her to have an interview with her regional manager.

I then asked about another “service”. Whenever you have a new medication their database flags it. It happened to me a few weeks ago:-

“Can I phone you in a few days to make sure you are getting on with the new drugs, Mr Lugosi?”

I thought, “how kind and customer oriented”. “Yes, no problem”

It turns out that this is also a service for which the pharmacist gets paid. We think they are taking an interest in us simply as a concern for customer welfare and developing their relationship with their customers.

You think “Oh, how thoughtful”.

The pharmacist thinks “That’s another easy few quid”.

My objection, that I made plain to the company, is that no-one has made it explicit to the customer that they are providing you with a service for which they get paid. It’s all part of giving pharmacists more responsibility for patient care to take a workload off the GP.  Maybe its value for money but people should be made more aware of this next time the pharmacist gets you to sign that form without conducting a proper interview.

© Lugosi 2018

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