Campaigners angry about ‘tax loophole’ at Barrow, Lancaster and Kendal hospitals
Last updated at 16:17, Thursday, 24 July 2014
HOSPITAL bosses have denied a “tax loophole” is driving pharmacy services into the private sector.
Private companies are being invited to bid for a contract worth £20m to 25m to dispense medicine to outpatients and A&E departments in Barrow, Lancaster and Kendal.
Concerns were raised after it emerged that private companies can reclaim 20 per cent VAT on medicines they buy from suppliers, whereas NHS trusts can not. This means private providers can put together far more competitive bids.
But University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said the move “was entirely driven by patients” and not by cost.
Deputy chief executive of the trust, Aaron Cummins, said in a statement: “A large number of NHS trusts work with commercial pharmacy partners to provide outpatient dispensing services.
“Evidence from neighbouring trusts suggests the change could halve waiting times for outpatient medications, as well as significantly speeding up take-at-home medicines provided by the trust for inpatients leaving hospital.”
He said the move would free up the trust’s pharmacists to focus on their “core duties” of prescribing to inpatients and providing expert advice.
However Cat Smith of No Health Selloff at Morecambe Bay, a campaign group formed in protest against the move, said: “The people of Morecambe Bay have a right to be very angry because the sell-off of their pharmacy services is being driven by a combination of the government’s Health and Social Care Act and a tax loophole favouring companies like Lloyds and Boots over the NHS.”
A spokesman for UHMBT said dispensing medicines to outpatients was not a core NHS service and it had no control over the tax system.
A statement from HM Revenue and Customs Service said: “Although NHS pharmacies cannot recover VAT on drugs they dispense on prescription, they are funded for that cost as part of their general funding for healthcare.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said he shared some of the campaigner’s concerns.
“Any tender should be based on improving service and not profit. I am calling for these rules to be changed as soon as possible.”
First published at 16:13, Thursday, 24 July 2014
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
WHAT!...."Evidence from neighbouring trusts suggests the change could halve waiting times for outpatient medications, as well as significantly speeding up take-at-home medicines provided by the trust for inpatients leaving hospital.âSurely this means that the current pharmacy services should be getting a rocket to make them get off their backsides and provide a better service to their customers (i.e. the public who pay their wages).There seems to be some sort of endemic problem within the NHS which because the service is provided "free" then we should be willing to accept a shoddy service.I've sat waiting to be seen whilst the staff seem to be totally lacking in any sense of urgency. I can hear them chatting about anything and nothing instead of getting on and doing what they are paid for."Entirely driven by patients" and not by costs......Rubbish!If the NHS were a supermarket, I'd dump 'em and shop elsewhere.
Come on Mr.Cummins. We all know that patients and their care is the last thing on your mind. It is all about money, money, money to provide more overpaid and "inadequate" management at Morecambe Bay. Patients don't even feature or matter in your plans.