The director of a family chain of high street pharmacies in South Wales has been sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for NHS fraud. He deliberately overcharged the NHS for medicines at one of his branches.
Pharmacist Michael Lloyd repeatedly submitted claims for payment to the NHS that falsely stated he had dispensed a more expensive item than he had actually provided to the patients.
Michael Lloyd is the Co-Director of Llanharan Pharmacy Ltd, which owns five pharmacy premises across South East Wales. He received and processed prescriptions issued to NHS patients in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) area.
NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS) Wales was called in to investigate following concerns raised by the health board. Investigations subsequently revealed that on numerous occasions, Lloyd falsely claimed he had dispensed medicines in liquid form to NHS patients when they had in fact received tablets. Drugs in liquid form cost significantly more.
Some tablets for dementia such as Memantine and Donepezil cost as little as £3 but Lloyd claimed for the more expensive liquid formulation, which sometimes cost the NHS as much £300 each time.
Lloyd sometimes altered the prescription forms – which had often already been honestly endorsed by staff to show that tablets had been dispensed – by crossing out their entries to claim for the much more expensive items such as liquids and dissolvable or dispersible tablets.
The prescriptions abused usually originated from genuine handwritten prescriptions issued by hospital doctors at the nearby Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Investigators also identified that Michael Lloyd had falsely claimed for liquids on prescriptions issued to patients by community dental practitioners for painkillers and antibiotics. However, patients always received the correct medication that they were prescribed.
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) supported the investigation. Its Forensic Computing Unit (FCU) assisted in obtaining a forensic image (a complete exact copy) of Talbot Pharmacy’s computer systems.
NHS CFS Wales worked closely with the Pharmacy Team at CTMUHB. Investigators analysed the prescriptions claimed for by Talbot Pharmacy against the computer systems and were able to prove that over 1,500 prescriptions had been falsely claimed for by Lloyd, costing the NHS a total £76,475. They also obtained the tablet packaging provided to a number of patients as further evidence to support this.
Lloyd repaid this amount in full to CTMUHB in May 2019. Earlier, in an interview under caution, he admitted to the offences in a pre-prepared statement.
The other four branches in the business did not appear to have processed their prescriptions in the same way.