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Boots to retrain staff after ‘disappointing’ Ask for ANI failure in Oxford

Boots UK will retrain its pharmacy teams on the Ask for ANI scheme, following an investigation that exposed unawareness of the service among the teams based in Oxford, the multiple has told C+D.

The Ask for ANI scheme, which launched in January last year, is available in over half of all UK pharmacies, including all Boots branches. Under the initiative, victims of domestic abuse can alert pharmacy staff that they need help by asking for ‘ANI’.

However, an Oxford Mail investigation into the scheme revealed last week that just two of the seven Boots pharmacies signed up to the initiative in Oxford were able to assist the journalist when she asked for “ANI”.

In five pharmacies, the journalist was told that “ANI” did not work there, and she was laughed at in two of these pharmacies after asking the question, she claimed.


Read more: Government launches domestic abuse codeword scheme for pharmacies


Boots “disappointed to hear about journalist’s experience”


The multiple is “disappointed to hear about this journalist’s experience” and is “already taking action to reissue training for our pharmacy team members”, a spokesperson for Boots UK told C+D on Friday (April 22).

Boots is also “in the process of printing additional Ask for ANI materials”, they added, to display in pharmacies.

A codeword for Action Needed Immediately, Ask for ANI allows those at risk or suffering from abuse “an important lifeline and access to immediate help from the police and other support services in a safe and discreet way”, the spokesperson said.

In January, Boots told C+D that “over 19,500 pharmacy team members” were given Ask for ANI training in the 2020/21 financial year, with all new members “given the same training”.


Read more: Priti Patel visits Boots pharmacy on first anniversary of scheme for abuse victims


Meanwhile, the Home Office also revealed in January that since its launch, Ask for ANI has provided emergency support “to at least 100 victims” across the UK, “with the [actual] figure expected to be higher due to voluntary reporting”.

Ask for ANI was promoted through “discreet social media adverts and paid search”, according to the Home Office.

When the Ask for ANI scheme launched last year, Boots’ 2,300 branches and 255 independent pharmacies were among the firsts to get involved.

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