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Boots sells lateral flow tests for £5.99 each as free testing set to end

Boots UK has begun selling COVID-19 lateral flow test kits online for £5.99 each, in a move that follows the government’s decision to limit free testing from April 1.

The multiple is making tests costing £5.99 for one and £17 for a pack of four available to buy via its website from today (February 23), it announced.

Meanwhile, around 400 Boots branches will start selling lateral flow tests for £2.50 each or £12 for a pack of five from early March, the multiple added.

 

Read more: Lateral flow test chaos: ‘Tearful’ pharmacy customers, 16-digit code ‘madness’ and patient abuse

 

“These tests will also be available on boots.com, alongside a bundle for two tests at £4.75 and four tests at £9.50,” Boots said.

Patients will be able to communicate their test result to the UK Health Security Agency (UK HSA) to report a negative test, but the tests are not valid for travel, the multiple specified.

 

End of free testing

 

Boots’ introduction of these “affordable” lateral flow tests follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday (February 21) to end free “symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public” from April 1.

However, the government would continue to provide “free symptomatic tests to those at the highest risk from COVID-19”, Mr Johnson specified.

In its Living with COVID-19 strategy published on Monday, the government wrote that it is “working with retailers and pharmacies to help establish the private market in testing”.

 

Read more: Pharmacy Collect: PSNC has ‘no clarity yet’ on future of test kit service

 

Commenting on the launch of the private testing service, Boots UK director of healthcare services Asif Aziz said: “We are pleased to be expanding our COVID-19 testing services even further, with affordable lateral flow testing options for those who still want peace of mind from asymptomatic testing after April 1.”

A spokesperson for Well Pharmacy told C+D today that it has not yet made a decision regarding the provision of lateral flow tests. C+D has also approached Lloydspharmacy and Rowlands for comment.

 

Increased demand for free tests

 

It is unclear how the decision to end free testing will impact the Pharmacy Collect service in England, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee told C+D last week (February 16).

However, the negotiator published an update on Monday in which it said that discussions on the future of this service are still “ongoing”.

People in England can now order just one pack of lateral flow tests every three days via the gov.uk website, when previously they could order them every 24 hours.

Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told the BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast programme this morning that, following the government’s announcement on free testing, people have been increasingly coming to pharmacies asking for the tests.

Recalling the increased demand for tests over the Christmas period, she said there is “always that worry about stock” but also “patients’ frustration being landed on our teams”.

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