CQC says it is reviewing concerns about major homecare medicines provider

A spokesperson for the regulator said inspectors are currently reviewing concerns raised about Sciensus and will determine whether regulatory action is required.
Care Quality Commission sign

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said it is reviewing concerns raised about Sciensus, one of the UK’s largest medicines delivery services.

On 24 April 2023, a spokesperson for the CQC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the body was “aware of concerns raised in relation to Sciensus Pharma Services Limited”.

“Inspectors are currently reviewing these concerns to identify whether further regulatory action is required and refer those that are not within CQC’s power to address to its partner agencies, as appropriate,” they said.

“CQC will report further on this as soon as we are able to and will not hesitate to take any action necessary to make sure people using services are safe.”

Under its previous name of Healthcare at Home, the company reviewed and changed some of its processes after being required by the General Pharmaceutical Council to complete an improvement action plan by April 2021.

The CQC review follows press reports of complaints from patient organisations and others about the service provided by Sciensus, which describes itself as the leading specialty pharmacy in Europe.

Dale Webb, chief executive of the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society, said patients with the condition needed a reliable supply of medication “but Sciensus is consistently letting them down”.

“We’ve heard from dozens of people with reports of poor customer service, with long waits to speak on the phone or to chat online,” he said.

“When they finally get through, advisors are often unable to help or don’t have the correct information. We’ve heard from others who’ve had deliveries missed and are left without essential medication.

“The situation is unacceptable. Axial SpA is a serious and debilitating condition. People are being subjected to unnecessary stress and being left to struggle with pain and fatigue alone. This needs to be resolved urgently.”

In Scotland, Alison Strath, chief pharmaceutical officer, is due to carry out a national review of homecare medicines services following a campaign by the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) and five other stakeholders.

The BSR has called for similar action to be taken in England, and met with David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, in February 2023 to discuss concerns and what an NHS England review of homecare medicines services might focus on.

A spokesperson for Sciensus said: “We are very sorry if any patients have faced delays — our speciality pharmacy service dispenses medicines to patients on behalf of the NHS across the UK and we understand how important it is for people to get their medicine on time.

“In cases where patients have concerns, we have a range of support services, including a priority helpline and same-day emergency dispensing.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2023, Vol 310, No 7973;310(7973)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.182829

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