Greensill Crisis Forces NHS to Pay Pharmacies for Prescriptions

The crisis engulfing lender Greensill Capital is adding stress to the U.K.’s pandemic-strained medical system.

Pharmacies relying on the government-backed program designed to speed payments from the National Health Service, were paid directly by the public service rather than through Greensill this week.

“We are aware of the latest developments from Greensill, and we are in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine our next steps. All members of the Pharmacy Earlier Payment Scheme received their monthly payment in full on Monday,” said a spokesperson from the NHS Business Services Authority. “Our priority is to ensure that they will continue to be paid.”

The Greensill operation, focused on short-term trade finance and set up by Lex Greensill, has been upended in recent days, with Greensill Capital planning to file for insolvency in the U.K.

The idea behind the prescription-payment scheme was to allow pharmacies to get paid more quickly than they otherwise would by hospitals, receiving estimated payments based on past demand. The program was introduced in 2012 by former Prime Minister David Cameron, who is now a Greensill adviser.

The issue shows how the problems at Greensill are rippling through the real economy. While much of its lending is linked to Sanjeev Gupta and some blue-chip firms, some is more workaday. Greensill subsidiary Earnd teamed up with the NHS to offer nurses and other staff earlier access to their wages.

Greensill declined to comment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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