Healthcare at Home has been given three months to sort out issues that left hundreds of patients in the UK without delivery of their medicines.

An inspection by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) was triggered by a sudden spike of complaints about the homecare group from patients about "late and failed deliveries of medication along with an inability to contact the company".

This found that Healthcare at Home was "insufficiently prepared" for what it considers to be two significant changes in its operations - taking over responsibility for an increased number of patients, and transfer from an internal distribution system to an external one with logistics group Movianto.

The Council has ruled that the management of risk posed by these changes was insufficient and that the capacity to take on more patients and deliver new services "had not been fully considered".

As a result, a proportion of patients did not receive their medicines at the scheduled time, and subsequent telephone enquiries from these patients overwhelmed Healthcare at Home’s customer service team, leaving complaints unresolved and patients confused. Communication with the NHS about these difficulties was also poor, the GPhC noted.

But speaking to PharmaTimes World News, an industry insider refuted the notion that the exit of homecare giant Medco from the UK market - and the subsequent transfer of its patients to Healthcare at Home - had anything to do with the latter's medicines supply fiasco.

Extra patients 'no difference'

Healthcare at Home has around 150,000 patients on its books, while the other three main homecare groups have less than 100,000 altogether. When Medco pulled out Healthcare at Home took over the least number of its patients - less than 2,500 - which our source notes would have made no significant difference to the firm's existing operations pre Movianto.

The problems, he said, are 100% down to the poor management decision to outsource Healthcare at Home's distribution arrangements. And all eyes will now be on the group's leaders to see if anyone takes the fall for these failings.

Dave Roberts, chief executive of the National Clinical Homecare Association (NCHA), said many patients have experienced "unacceptable levels of stress and worry" as a result of the delivery problems, and that "any reduction in the high standard set by the industry and the NHS is unacceptable and regrettable".