From yesterdays Indo
You would think that they would love a chance to have a go at pharmacists. Why did it take Finbarr so long to get a copy of the report and why make an ex-gratia payment of €54,000? Something stinks here. Fair play to Finbarr for sticking to his guns.
What will our wonderful new Pharmacy Regulator be doing about this? Did they even know about it and if so why didn’t they act sooner. So many questions, so few answers.
By Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent
Monday February 09 2009
A PHARMACIST was dispensing medicines to patients “from the boot of his car” after they were treated in his mother’s GP clinic.
John MacManus, of Belturbet, Co Cavan, told an inquiry that when patients were seen by his mother, Dr Philomena MacManus, at her clinic in the Glenfarne and Kiltyclogher area in Co Leitrim, she would issue them with a necessary prescription.
The patient would then come out to the car park of the health centre where Mr MacManus would dispense the necessary medication from the boot of his car.
The startling revelations emerged in a report the Health Service Executive (HSE) attempted to keep under wraps for six years after complaints from another pharmacist, Finbarr Ryan.
The HSE also sent Mr Ryan a cheque for €54,000, despite refusing to release the results of an inquiry sparked by his complaints.
The money was paid out of the HSE section which runs medical card funds. The inquiry found that Dr MacManus was a director of her son’s pharmacy business and this contravened her medical card contract with the health board.
This kind of link is banned, to ensure there is no commercial incentive for a GP when deciding to write a patient’s prescription. The report said the practice of dispensing from the boot of the car stopped when the north eastern health board intervened. The report, a copy of which has been seen by the Irish Independent, also found that Mr MacManus delivered medicines through the letterboxes of patients.
In some cases, in excess of one month’s supply was delivered by Mr MacManus to the patients’ homes.
The inquiry, led by independent management consultant Derry O’Dwyer and senior health service pharmacist Kate Mulvenna, concluded that there was “a risk to patients in this community” in relation to the dispensing of medicine by these methods.
The team also looked at the circumstances surrounding Dr MacManus’s decision to transfer to her son the supply of medicines to her medical card patients in Arus Breffni, a nursing home run by the health board, in Manorhamliton in 1999.
This was despite the fact that under health board contract rules, the nearest pharmacist, Mr Ryan, of Gilberts, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, should have had the business.
When challenged, she said it was her “prerogative” to choose her son’s pharmacy, which was in Belturbet, Co Cavan, 44 miles away. It was this transfer of business which led Mr Ryan to complain. Mr MacManus has since also opened a pharmacy in Manorhamilton
The inquiry found the supply of medicines to Arus Breffni lacked proper controls and risk management.
It found that none of the medicines they examined in the nursing home in November 2002 was labelled on an individual named basis “as would be expected” when dispensed by a pharmacist on foot of a medical card prescription. The inquiry was later ordered to investigate the complaints.
Mr Ryan spent years trying to secure a copy of the report, after the inquiry was set up in 2002.
It was finally released on the orders of Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly. Soon afterwards Mr Ryan received his cheque, which the HSE termed an ex gratia payment
The cheque has never been cashed.
The doctor and pharmacist who were the subjects of the inquiry said it was a “minor dispute between two pharmacists – and is of no interest or concern to the general public”.