Boots responds, but is met with scepticism

Boots shopfront

UK pharmacy giant Boots has told Chemist + Druggist that clinical services should not be undertaken inappropriately – but UK pharmacists don’t seem convinced.

C+D spoke to the chain after a former Boots branch manager, Asif Alam, claimed that he falsely registered £700 worth of patients for the Minor Ailments Service because of pressure placed upon him by Boots management to hit targets.

Boots chief pharmacist Marc Donovan told C+D that he “cannot comment on individual cases” but that the group makes it clear to employees that services should only be undertaken in a professional manner.

He said Boots pharmacists were “empowered” to use their professional judgement when deciding whether or not to offer a clinical service such as MAS.

“If a pharmacist feels their work is being compromised at any time, they have a right and a professional duty to speak to their line manager or to the chief pharmacist’s office to raise the issue and to make sure a solution can be found,” he told C+D’s Beth Kennedy.

C+D readers expressed scepticism.

“Sounds familiar. Didn’t he say the same last time and the time before and the time before that?” wrote community pharmacist Stephen Walsh.

“I wonder how many pharmacists who have raised this issue with their line manager has had assistance in finding a solution, and how many times that solution is ‘get a different pharmacist’?” mused community pharmacist Stephen Eggleston.

“I recently had to warn a Boots Pharmacist who had just taken on a Branch Manager role to stop doing a similar thing to poor Mr Alam,” wrote a reader who identified themselves as “Alternative Pharmacist”.

“They did stop even though their Area Manager knew about the large number of registrations for the Branch (it is reported for each Branch on a weekly basis and brought up each week on Conference Call with pressure to get more, more, more!) and thought there was nothing wrong with it!”

Several readers suggested that instead of reporting abuse of pharmacy services, it would be more productive to get in touch with mainstream newspapers.

Readers also responded to C+D’s coverage of Alam’s hearing at the General Pharmaceutical Council, where he was suspended for nine months, with sympathy and concern about the behaviour of Boots and other pharmacy chains.

“I have enormous sympathy for Mr Alam,” wrote community pharmacist Clive Hodgson.

“The individual Pharmacist stands little chance when matched against the interests of certain Corporate Pharmacy entities and ‘their’ GPhC.”

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