Pharmacy audit timing 'curious'
A Riverton pharmacy owner who has battled with the District Health Board over a funding agreement feels she has been unfairly targeted for an audit, though the DHB finance chief says it is a routine matter.
Sally Reynolds said flying an auditor from Whanganui to Invercargill, and accruing accommodation and car rental costs for the sake of $294, seemed a waste of taxpayer money in cash-strapped times.
She believed the audit had begun because she questioned details in the Government's new Pharmacy Services Agreement, which affects both her Riverton business and a pharmacy depot she runs in Tuatapere.
The audit was part of "strings attached" to funding that would secure the Tuatapere depot, she said.
Health board general manager of finance and funding Robert Mackway-Jones would not comment on why the DHB pushed for the audit, but said that 19 pharmacy audits were carried out each year as part of the Southern District Health Board's audit programme.
Mrs Reynolds has been critical of how the DHB has handled her individual contract before the contract was finalised on July 23, and believed she was not given enough time to look through a 166-page document before the deadline.
In one instance, the draft contract she was given had errors and was dated in its information.
Mrs Reynolds said she had lost trust in the Southern DHB because of the lack of communication and support when pharmacies were struggling to understand how the new, complex funding contract would affect them.
The services agreement - which will be rolled out over three years and changes how pharmacies are paid to dispense prescriptions - is the biggest change to pharmacy services in New Zealand in 50 years.
Being put through the stress of an audit had made the situation more overwhelming.
"Partly based on the pettiness and the timing [of the audit] . . . I felt it very pointed because I had raised a few issues and spoken up against the new PSA [pharmacy services agreement]."
The audit was done on July 9 by a staff person who flew from Whanganui. Mrs Reynolds was told that hers was the only pharmacy in Southland to be audited on the visit, though one other pharmacy in Dunedin was also audited.
Mrs Reynolds said she was told by the staff person overseeing the audit that it was "curious" timing for the DHB to request an audit for such a minor claim.
She was also told the mistakes she was audited for were normal for a pharmacy that dispenses at the level she does.
Mr Mackway-Jones said auditors from the Health Ministry's audit and compliance team - who are spread around the country - usually travel from another area to avoid conflict of interest.
The audits focus on the quality and safety of pharmacy processes, but also have a component which looks at financial claiming under the contract.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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