Lloyds pharmacist is senior member of standards watchdog
A senior pharmacist in the Lloyds chain - which was forced to pay a €12m settlement to the HSE over incorrectly claimed fees - is also a council member of the State watchdog overseeing standards in the pharmacy industry.
Joanne Kissane is the superintendent pharmacist at Lloyds, which was forced to pay €12m following a probe into the way it operated the 'My Med' payment scheme for elderly customers.
The pharmacy chain boosted its dispensing fee income by claiming multiple payments from the State for single prescriptions presented by medical card holders. A spokeswoman for Lloyds yesterday confirmed that Ms Kissane is also on the council for the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, which is the regulator responsible for overseeing standards and protecting the public.
The 21-member council, which is appointed by the Minister for Health, is its powerful decision-making arm.
The spokeswoman said Ms Kissane had indicated that if the regulator examined the allegations against Lloyds she would "absent herself" and avoid any conflict of interest or "inference of same".
A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland told the Irish Independent that it is aware of the settlement payment of €12m and it is "considering whether any regulatory issues arise". He said the regulator has extensive powers of investigation under the Pharmacy Act 2007 and can also consider complaints made about pharmacists and pharmacies under the statutory disciplinary process, outlined in the act. "As it is a statutory complaints process we cannot comment on any matter regarding complaints."
The HSE has refused to give further details of how the settlement was made and said it is also investigating four more pharmacies for similar allegations.
Lloyds has also refused to say if anyone had been disciplined or what changes it made to schemes involving public money. Lloyds pharmacy confirmed it increased its income from dispensing fees by 66pc per patient using the My Med scheme. Under the scheme, pharmacies can dispense drugs in four compartmentalised trays, one for each seven-day period.
The pharmacy is paid a fee of around €5 by the HSE and another €3.27 for each weekly tray for the rest of the month's supply. A medical card patient on five medication scripts would generate dispensing fees of €74.05 per month for the pharmacist in this scheme, compared with €25 if the medications were given as part of a normal month's supply .
The HSE claimed Lloyds breached its contract by giving patients four trays in one visit instead of on a phased basis over a month. An internal newsletter found Lloyds had set targets for its stores and highlighted how staff visited local day-care centres to sign up patients.