Firm delivering prescriptions to people in lockdown goes bust
Thousands of people shielding using an online prescription delivery service have been left in the lurch after the firm went bust.
Now Healthcare Group saw a 500pc rise in uptake in its online services in a week in March but has now ceased trading.
The firm blamed the loss of a big contract to Norwich insurance giant Aviva. But it also follows a recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report that found its online GP service was inadequate.
The firm, which provided an online pharmacy enabling users to order a repeat prescription using an app and also an online GP video consultation service, was a saviour for people needing medicines who did not want to venture out in lockdown.
But one Norfolk user of the pharmacy service said it had let her down from the start. The woman, who lives near Aylsham, but who did not want to be named, is currently shielding, and said: “I registered with Now Pharmacy so that I would not have to break the government rules and leave home to pick up my prescription. I ordered it and waited nearly two weeks before finally the delivery arrived but it contained only one box of paracetamol and none of my urgent medicines. I then tried to contact them by ringing a helpline and emailed them but heard nothing. Meanwhile it was very difficult to get the medicines reordered by my GP.”
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Now Healthcare informed customers by emailing them with no warning on Friday, stating: “It is with regret that we inform you that Now Healthcare Group and Now Pharmacy have ceased trading and will no longer be fulfilling prescriptions. All electronic prescriptions have been returned to the NHS Spine, the central system.”
It is understood that the firm contacted staff stating the reason for its closure was following the loss of a contract to supply Norwich insurance giant Aviva which recently changed suppliers.
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Steve Bridger, managing director of UK Health at Aviva, said: “We informed customers and their intermediaries that from the end of May, the Aviva digital GP app that we offer on some of our policies as an added-value service will now be provided by Square Health, following a supplier review.”
Around 30 people are employed by Now Healthcare, based in Manchester. A report by the CQC published last month into its Now GP business said it needed improvement.
In March, Now Healthcare’s CEO Lee Dentith said: “Many of our patients must go into a period of social distancing so heading out to their local pharmacy to collect the numerous medications is not an option – particularly when the pharmacies can.”
We have contacted Now Healthcare for a comment.
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