World news wrapup: 24 May 2018

Pharmacist struck off after “crude” scheme in Ireland; hospital pharmacists strike in Malta; no national MAS for England

Cork, Ireland: A pharmacist has had her registration cancelled by Ireland’s High Court after she made 669 reimbursement claims for prescription medicines for herself and her two children – but the medicines were not supplied to them.

Beatrice Ross was the proprietor of pharmacies in Fermoy, Cork and Cahir, Tipperary, which were inspected after the Health Service Executive became concerned about the claims.

The analysis of the claims found that they were made for two children, but that the medicines were either inappropriate in children or in dosages or frequencies which made them inappropriate unless prescribed by a specialist consultant, the Irish Times reports. She and her children experienced normal health during this time.

After the enquiry the claims stopped and Ms Ross did not produce the prescriptions. She was found guilty of professional misconduct in 2017 by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, which applied to the High Court to confirm its advice that she be struck off.

Justice Peter Kelly told the High Court that the scheme had been “crude” and of “serious dishonesty” with “no mitigating factors” and cancelled Ms Ross’ registration.


UK: Pharmacy Minister Steve Brine has confirmed in a letter to shadow health minister Julie Cooper that there is no plan to roll out a pharmacy-based minor ailments scheme in England, the Pharmaceutical Journal reports.

In late 2016, the previous pharmacy minister, David Mowat, said that such an MAS scheme would be rolled out through pharmacies across the country by April 2018.

But Mr Brine wrote to Ms Cooper that the MAS is to be “commissioned locally according to the needs of the local population”.

“However, over 11,000 pharmacies are providing clinical support including obtaining urgent medicines supplies through the Quality Scheme for pharmacies introduced in 2017,” he wrote.

Julie Cooper told the Journal that she was “hugely” disappointed, including because of the Government’s 2016 commitment to the national scheme.

“Such schemes are massively beneficial for patients, particularly in the most deprived areas, and enable community pharmacies to take some of the strain off GPs.

“I do not believe that the minister has a full appreciation of the professional capabilities of pharmacists, and this decision is further evidence and represents a missed opportunity.”


Msida, Malta: Dispensing services at the Mater Dei Hospital in Msida are being suspended for three hours each day, reports the Times of Malta.

The hospital’s administration sent a memo out to health professionals at the site advising that between 10am and 1pm each day, pharmacy services are suspended due to an industrial dispute – unless an emergency situation warrants reopening the service.

UĦM Voice of the Workers, a union which represents Maltese pharmacists, told the Times that the industrial dispute had been ongoing for three weeks, and said it concerned inadequate staffing levels.

The staff shortage is so severe that pharmacists cannot take any leave, the spokesperson said.


London, UK: The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and National Pharmacy Association’s appeal against cuts to the pharmacy sector is currently underway at the Court of Appeal in London.

Last year the High Court dismissed the groups’ legal challenge against the cuts of 12% from the sector, with the judge involved at the time saying that the Health Department’s consultation process, while unfair, was not unlawful.

During the first day of the appeal, counsel representing the PSNC slammed the “fag packet approach” of the government towards pharmacy.

Chemist + Druggist reports that Alison Foster QC told the appeal court that there should have been more detailed information on the potential impact of the cuts before they were imposed.

She said that the Department’s analysis of the pharmacy sector was unreliable and that the steps it took to carry out the funding cuts were “wholly wrong”.

The appeal is expected to take two to three days.

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