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Director of pharmacy chain jailed for £76,000 NHS fraud

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THE DIRECTOR of a family chain of high street pharmacies in South Wales has been sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for deliberately overcharging the NHS for medicines at one of his branches: Talbot Pharmacy at Heol Y Gyfraith Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taf (Cardiff Crown Court, 22 October 2019).

Pharmacist Michael Lloyd (52) of Penllyn, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, repeatedly submitted claims for payment to the NHS that falsely stated he had dispensed a more expensive item than he had actually provided to the patients.

Michael Lloyd is the co-director of Llanharan Pharmacy Ltd, which owns five pharmacy premises across South East Wales.

Lloyd received and processed prescriptions issued to NHS patients in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) area.

NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS) Wales was called in to investigate following concerns raised by the health board. Investigations subsequently revealed that on numerous occasions, Lloyd falsely claimed he had dispensed medicines in liquid form to NHS patients when they had in fact received tablets. Drugs in liquid form cost significantly more.

Some tablets for dementia such as Memantine and Donepezil cost as little as £3 but Lloyd claimed for the more expensive liquid formulation, which sometimes cost the NHS as much £300 each time.

Lloyd sometimes altered the prescription forms – which had often already been honestly endorsed by staff to show that tablets had been dispensed – by crossing out their entries to claim for the much more expensive items such as liquids and dissolvable or dispersible tablets.

The prescriptions abused usually originated from genuine handwritten prescriptions issued by hospital doctors at the nearby Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Investigators also identified that Michael Lloyd had falsely claimed for liquids on prescriptions issued to patients by community dental practitioners for painkillers and anti-biotics. However, patients always received the correct medication that they were prescribed.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) supported the investigation. Its Forensic Computing Unit (FCU) assisted in obtaining a forensic image (a complete exact copy) of Talbot Pharmacy’s computer systems.

NHS CFS Wales worked closely with the Pharmacy Team at CTMUHB. Investigators analysed the prescriptions claimed for by Talbot Pharmacy against the computer systems and were able to prove that over 1,500 prescriptions had been falsely claimed for by Lloyd, costing the NHS a total £76,475. They also obtained the tablet packaging provided to a number of patients as further evidence to support this.

Lloyd repaid this amount in full to CTMUHB in May 2019. Earlier, in an interview under caution, he admitted to the offences in a pre-prepared statement.

The other four branches in the business did not appear to have processed their prescriptions in the same way.

Graham Dainty, Operational Fraud Manager of CFS Wales, said today:

“CFS Wales has recently secured several successful prosecutions of NHS professionals who have defrauded NHS Wales. Pharmaceutical practitioners work in a key position of trust. Michael Lloyd abused his position as a pharmacist to deliberately defraud NHS Wales over an extended period of time. A dishonest minority are harming the reputation of the honest majority of pharmaceutical practitioners. This case shows that fraud will not be tolerated in NHS Wales and that suitable criminal, civil and disciplinary sanctions will always be pursued when appropriate”.

Sue Frith, CEO of the NHSCFA, said today: “This case is a shocking example of pharmaceutical contractor fraud, which is a priority action area for the NHSCFA this year. We were pleased to support NHS CFS Wales in this investigation, and our counter fraud teams routinely collaborate closely to ensure there is nowhere for fraudsters to hide. The specialist support of our Forensic Computing Unit helped CFS Wales to confront Mr Lloyd with a mass of hard evidence.

Any suspicion of fraud against the NHS should be reported to the NHS Fraud and Corruption Report Line via NHSCFA’s main website or by telephone on 0800 028 4060. Wherever appropriate, it will be investigated and prosecuted.”

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Welsh Rugby star Ryan Jones backs NSPCC Cymru

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A NEW NSPCC Cymru/Wales service that aims to help children and young people keep safe in their digital worlds and prevent online sexual abuse, has been praised by former Welsh Rugby captain, Ryan Jones, during a visit to the children’s charity’s base in Swansea.

During a tour of the service centre on Friday 29 November, the Wales Rugby legend met with NSPCC Cymru/Wales service practitioners who deliver direct work with local children and their families.

They shared with him their work, through their Protect and Respect service, to support children and young people who may be experiencing exploitation, as well as how they are helping parents who are at risk of mild to moderate anxiety and depression during pregnancy with their preventative mental-health service, Pregnancy in Mind.

A more recent service to be offered to children and young people in South Wales is In Ctrl, a group work programme for children and young people that aims to help them stay safe online.

Ryan said: “It’s been really interesting to find out more about the direct services the NSPCC delivers in South Wales, and how their prevention work with local schools through the In Ctrl service is helping to keep children and young people safe both on and offline.

“It’s reassuring to know that children are being empowered to ask themselves those really important questions when they go online, and increase their confidence in knowing what to do or who to speak to if they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable.”

NSPCC Cymru/Wales Service Centre Manager in Swansea, Tracey Holdsworth added: “We were thrilled to be able to welcome Ryan to our service centre, thank him for all of his support, and share the work we are doing to help local children and their families.

“Ryan took a particular interest in our InCtrl programme that helps to prevent abuse online. In taking a trauma informed approach, it is designed to offer a safe space to children, young people and their parents to promote learning, build understanding of risk and increase resilience, in their online and offline worlds.

“Our practitioners visit local primary and secondary schools working with pupils who are aged between 9 and 13, exploring issues such as healthy relationships and friendships online, and enabling them to develop skills that will help protect them from grooming and exploitation.”

The work compliments the work of the charity’s Schools Service team in Wales, that visits local primary schools delivering free Speak out Stay safe assemblies and workshops that help children know about the different types of abuse, how to recognise the signs, and explore trusted adults they can speak to if they ever have a worry or concern.

In the 2018/19 academic year trained staff and volunteers delivered the free safeguarding sessions at 12 primary schools in Swansea reaching more than 3,000 children.

Ryan added: “I have attended a Speak out Stay safe assembly, and they are a great way to ensure children with a worry understand they can speak to Childline or a trusted adult about it and know they will be listened to.

“The InCtrl service offered by the NSPCC gives children the confidence to speak out if they come across something that concerns them online – and that’s so important.

“It’s great that parents are getting involved too. Giving them a safe space to talk, and helping them understand the issues facing their children online can help them feel assured talking to their child about their online use and how to keep them safe online.”

Online sexual abuse can happen anywhere that allows digital communication, such as social networks, text messages and messaging apps, email, online chats, voice chat in games and comments on live streaming apps.

Tracey added: “Too many children contact Childline not knowing where to turn having been exploited online. We want children and young people to have a happier and safer life, knowing that whenever they talk to a trusted adult, in school or at home, their concerns will be addressed.

“InCtrl is for children who might be going through lots of exciting changes – moving up to secondary school, getting a first mobile device, and using social media profiles for the first time.

“As exciting as all this can be, it can also be hard to know what to do sometimes and for some children, things can easily feel quickly out of their control, especially if they have had a worrying online experience.”

In Ctrl is carried out mainly in groups and covers themes such as healthy relationships, boundaries, pressure and expectation online, self-care, body image, pornography, and sexting. There is also an option for one-to-one work too, if needed, and anyone wanting to find out more about the service can contact the NSPCC in Swansea on 01792 456545 or SwanseaServiceCentre@nspcc.org.uk. The service is also offered out of the charity’s Cardiff base – CardiffServiceCentre@nspcc.org.uk or 02920 108080.

Children can contact Childline for free 24/7, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk.

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Teaching assistant dies after being ‘hit with chair’

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A Teaching Assistant from Ysgol Bryn Castell in Bryncethin, Bridgend has died just days after being hit by a chair thrown by a pupil.
Ysgol Bryn Castell is a special school for 147 pupils aged seven to 19 is closed whilst police investigate.
South Wales Police said: “Police in Bridgend are investigating the unexplained death of a 31-year-old man who was found dead at a property in the Brackla area on Sunday morning.
“A post-mortem examination is due to take place later today to try and establish the cause of death.”

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Birthday celebrates £172M invested in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea

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THE NATIONAL Lottery celebrates its 25th Birthday today and charities and community groups throughout Neath Port Talbot and Swansea are marking the incredible impact of the £172 million awarded to more than 5,600 good causes in the area over the last quarter of a century.

The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994 and the 25th Birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact the National Lottery has had on good causes in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea – large and small – in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community.

Whether it’s funding for large iconic projects and landmarks; small community projects which make a big difference; producing the most amazing films; or supporting grassroots sports clubs – it’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £6.4 million each month for good causes in Wales, that brilliant projects which support our communities and make a vital and sustained contribution to our national life are possible.

As part of the celebrations today, an unique map of Wales featuring 14 of the most iconic landmarks funded over the last 25 years will be unveiled. The map, created by Welsh Artist Hannah Davies, will be on display at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, which is one of the iconic locations featured, from November 19th – 25th. Also featured are the Wales National Pool in Swansea, which was awarded £8.5 million for its development and the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea which was built the support of £11 million in National Lottery funding.

A wide variety of other local projects in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea have received National Lottery funding over the last 25 years, including:

Renovating and returning Margam Park, Port Talbot’s number one tourist attraction, back to its former glory (£1.6 million).
Restoring Victoria Gardens, Neath’s Grade II registered park in the heart of the town centre (£1.4 million).

In the last 25 years, more than £166 million of National Lottery funding has been invested to 17,300 grassroots sports projects in Wales – creating opportunities for everyone to get fit and improve their lives through sport.

The National Lottery has also helped develop some of Wales’ most successful and recognisable Olympic and Paralympic athletes to thrive and achieve legendary status. Those who have reaped the rewards from the National Lottery funded World Class Programme from Wales over the years include the Swansea Harriers Marathon Runner, Dewi Griffiths. The World Class Programme affords athletes like Dewi coaching, training, and competition support, medical, technology and scientific services.

70% of all National Lottery grants however have been for small amounts worth up to £10,000, bringing benefits to communities far and wide. These include:

£4,983 for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Lon Las in Swansea to start an IT community within the school;
£4,950 for Upper Killay Community Council in Swansea to provide the local community with life-saving equipment such as defibrillators in the case of a cardiac emergency; and
£4,733 for Melyn United Bowls Club in Neath to purchase equipment and ensure their range of teams can continue to make use of the facilities.

Highlighting the impact of the National Lottery in Wales over the last 25 years, Nick Capaldi, Chair of the Wales National Lottery Forum and the Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales, said: “For 25 years, The National Lottery has been creating possibilities and making us proud of our communities whilst protecting the things we’re most passionate about in Wales. Without the funding, many of our most loved and iconic landmarks wouldn’t exist and many charities wouldn’t be changing lives to the scale they are now. The 25th Birthday is a time to recognise and reflect on the momentous and positive impact the National Lottery has had on the lives of people in communities throughout Wales.”

Also released today – ‘What has the National Lottery Ever Done for Us?’ – is a comedy film created by BAFTA nominated writer and director David Schneider, parodying the much-loved ‘What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?’ scene from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian. Click here to see the film.

The short film is fronted by comedian Jimmy Carr and features a series of hilarious and surprising cameos from a host of famous faces, including Sir Chris Hoy, Rio Ferdinand, and Jane Horricks each heckling Jimmy with their own facts about The National Lottery’s positive impact on good causes.

Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using hashtag: #NationalLottery25.

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