The BBC's Inside Out programme – which aired last night – aimed to investigate pharmacists’ concerns over “workload pressure and patient safety” at Boots, the broadcaster said in promotional materials.
The programme included anonymous testimonies from Boots pharmacists, one of whom claimed that a lack of staff “often” means pharmacists are forced to self-check medication.
Boots pharmacy director Richard Bradley said in the programme that in "less than 1% of the time, or 1% of the prescriptions that we dispense, a pharmacist will return to their own work and check that prescription themselves".
Mr Bradley told C+D this afternoon: "In quiet times, such as late at night in one of our midnight pharmacies, a pharmacist may check their own work. They have ample space and time to be able to do this."
The multiple has a standard operating procedure in place "if self-checking is required", Mr Bradley added. “It advises pharmacists on how to do this safely, including taking a mental break and stepping away before coming back to check the prescription.”
"A last resort"
According to the BBC, Boots told the programme that "pharmacists should only check their own work as a last resort".
"All of our prescriptions are checked twice before they go out," Mr Bradley stressed on the programme.
While C+D readers on Twitter stressed that self-checking is a “big no-no”, locum pharmacist Ehtisham Kiani said it is "very often the only resort" for "late-night stores and at weekends".
Sadia Qayyum, a former Boots pharmacy manager and now northern lead for the Primary Care Pharmacy Association, said: "This was a regular occurrence for me before I left management."
In last night's programme, Mr Bradley added: "If we have pharmacists who think they are in situations where they are having to [self-check] when they shouldn't, they have a professional responsibility to raise that."
He also stressed that if any Boots pharmacist "fears speaking up, they can ring me direct".
"I absolutely assure confidentiality on that, just like we do with our whistleblowing hotline," he added.
Mr Bradley told C+D that: "We have an open and honest learning culture and are always looking at how we can do things better and more safely, including listening to our colleagues about their experiences on the ground and encouraging them to share their views."
community pharmacy environment nowadays is just too hectic to risk it - I wouldn’t do it under any circumstance, not worth it.— Sheilann (@Sheilann765) January 8, 2018
This was a regular occurrence for me before I left management... well done Joy for saying how hours are calculated should be shared openly— Sadia Q (@SadiaQMancPharm) January 8, 2018
Self checking is a no-no— Aisha (@VocalPharmacist) January 8, 2018
It’s a challenge to clear your mind and memory 100%. Not ideal when the patient expects the rx in 5 mins. Often I would check the item out loud at the counter in front of the patient as a second, distinct check. Everyone makes mistakes at some point though...— Laura Mason (@masepot) January 8, 2018
Not really. #confirmationBias— le pharmacien.⛑ (@dimmaemmy) January 8, 2018
It's a ticking time bomb but when your employers openly admit all they care about is bottom line then it's an issue that's not going away. Holding back Rxs at the end of month to ensure practice payments re disp hours is commonplace— Telling The Truth (@pharmacytruth) January 8, 2018
During the programme, C+D led a debate on Twitter using the #BootsonBBC hashtag, which uncovered that many of the issues raised are not just affecting staff at the multiple (see more of the reaction here).
Catch up with last night's episode of Boots: Pharmacists under pressure? on BBCiPlayer here