Too many pharmacies are not being paid properly for expensive items, pharmacist Fin McCaul has suggested.

Pharmacies struggle to track their prescription payments, he said, and that even extra measures such as those implemented in his company are still sometimes not enough. “We have four separate checks, but we still miss some: “We are giving money away.”

Mr McCaul was speaking at a Pharmacy Show seminar describing the benefits of the Check34 system. This allows pharmacies to analyse the performance of their dispensing business and other activities across a number of key performance indicators, compared to national and local averages. Looking at your business trends could give you the information you need to challenge your payment on, he said, although the system can’t specifically pinpoint an error.

“We shouldn’t be dispensing at a loss – but at least this can help to reduce the impact.” Check34 helps pharmacies to understand their business better, but also benchmarks it as well, he said “It’s only when you understand the data that you know what’s going on.”

The NPA is offering the Check 34 service, developed by PSNC, for no charge. However, half of the funded accounts have already been signed up, says the organisation, and the NPA is encouraging more pharmacies to take up the remaining places. It is suggested that owners can include their accountant as a user of the system, to assist with their financial analysis.

Enhanced services are one area that pharmacies can look to improve on. Still only 50 per cent of MURs are being carried out across independent pharmacy, said Mr McCaul. “Not only is this about money, it’s about not providing a quality service to patients. Don’t come crying to me if you are struggling with cash flow,” he challenged.

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