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Regulator to look into Boots MUR evidence

The Guardian has referred to evidence suggesting the chain pressures staff to carry out unnecessary MURs to maximise profits

Latest: Regulator to look into Boots MUR evidence


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has told C+D it is "liasing" with the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) over material it shared with the Guardian in relation to the newspaper's allegations against the multiple.

As well as an unpublished survey conducted by the PDA that it claims was completed by over 600 Boots employees, the regulator is also asking the PDA to provide it with "other relevant evidence", it said this afternoon (April 14).

Update: Boots issues second response to MUR allegations

Boots has reminded its pharmacists of its guidance on providing medicines use reviews (MURs), a spokesperson has told C+D.

Its professional standards make it clear that services “must be for the benefit of patients, not the attainment of numerical targets”, it said yesterday evening (April 13).

The multiple "doesn't recognise" the Guardian's claims, which it said are "not representative" of its 60,000-strong staff.

Boots makes it clear to staff that services should not be carried out "inappropriately", it stressed. All of its staff are "empowered" to use their professional judgement to assess the appropriateness of offering services, it said.

"The drive for strong financial performance has never been to the detriment of our constant priority on pharmacy and delivering the best healthcare services in the communities we serve," it added.

A national newspaper has accused Boots of pressuring staff to abuse medicines use reviews (MURs) for financial gain.

The Guardian claimed it has evidence that Boots managers have instructed staff to carry out unnecessary MURs on each other or on patients who do not need them, so it can make the maximum amount possible from the service, in an article published this morning (April 12).

Pharmacists are currently paid to carry out a maximum of 400 MURs per year. But the Guardian claimed Boots staff are encouraged to treat this number as a "target for individual stores to hit".

An "expectation"

The newspaper claimed one Boots pharmacist in the Midlands said he had been instructed to carry out an MUR on himself, as well as a patient who had dementia. The store entered an incomplete MUR carried out by his manager onto its system, it was also claimed.

Another Boots pharmacist from the north-west of England told the newspaper that he and his colleagues were informed at a recent staff away day that reaching 400 MURs per store is now an "expectation", it is alleged. 

Pharmacists are paid £28 for carrying out a single MUR. The Guardian claims that Boots could earn £30 million annually if each of its stores reached the 400 cap.

The Guardian claimed to have seen an email sent in 2008 from a senior manager stating that, while Boots did not want staff to feel "brow-beaten" by targets, each missed MUR is a "lost £28".

C+D’s Salary Survey 2015 revealed that more than half of pharmacists regularly conduct unnecessary services just to meet targets.


How often do you feel pressured to provide an MUR, regardless of whether it will benefit the patient?
More than once a day
Every day
Two or three times a week
Once a week
Once a month
Total votes: 1110

Regulator's response

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D that the regulator expects all pharmacy professionals to meet its standards to practise safely and effectively.

Its standards of conduct, ethics and performance make it clear that pharmacy professionals should make caring for patients their first concern and raise concerns about anything that could affect patient care or public safety, he said this afternoon.



Have you ever felt pressured to carry out unnecessary targets?

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