A locum pharmacist worked for two weeks at a community pharmacy. They noticed that some of the staff were dispensing medication on the minor ailments scheme (a scheme to reduce the cost to the customer), but then charging the customer for the medicine. This meant that staff could collect the extra money.
At the end of their two weeks, the locum pharmacist emailed the store manager to make them aware of their concerns. They copied in their agency, so that they were also aware of the situation. The store manager said that they would look into it, but neither the store nor the agency heard any more about it.
Six months later, the pharmacist was asked to work at the store again. There was a new manager in post, but the pharmacist noticed that similar practices were still taking place. While they were there they gathered some evidence of what was happening, including figures for the number of minor ailment claims and the stock takings for the week.
They considered taking their concerns directly to NHS Counter Fraud Services (CFS), but were concerned that if they did, there would be no way for them to know if any action had been taken. They therefore contacted the health board’s primary care confidential contact. The concern was recorded at stage 2 of the whistleblowing procedure, and the information was passed on to the board’s fraud liaison officer, who shared it with NHS CFS.
A thorough investigation was undertaken, which took several months. During this time, the fraud liaison officer was able to confirm that the investigation was ongoing. At the end of the investigation, the CFS informed the Board that they would be prosecuting the pharmacy. The Board then took further appropriate action in relation to their contract with the pharmacy. The primary care confidential contact was able to inform the locum pharmacist that the investigation had concluded and that information had been passed onto the appropriate authorities.
They were also signposted to the INWO if they do not think that this concern has been resolved, or had concerns about how they were treated through the process.