Customer anger about the use of plastic bags, issued from its Preston dispensing hub to 380 Boots branches across the country, made national headlines last week. The BBC’s coverage included a patient’s claim that the hub is a “cost-cutting exercise”.
But Boots stressed that the hub is “not a cost-saving measure”, and instead “removes the routine dispensing workload from individual stores”.
The hub has been in operation since 2014 and “helps free our pharmacists’ time”, which allows them to do more services for our patients”, the multiple said.
This is increasingly important as the NHS is “keen that pharmacists are more available to offer patients advice and services like flu vaccinations and health checks”.
Machines at the hub use automation to “safely and securely pick the right medicines for each prescription”, with “the latest scanning verification technology to ensure the highest levels of accuracy”.
Hub accounts for less than 8% of total dispensing
Centralised dispensing accounts for less than 8% of the multiple’s total dispensing, meaning the “overwhelming majority” of medicines are dispensed in paper bags.
Plastic bags are used at the hub as they are robust and can be heat sealed to prevent medication falling out, Boots explained.
Boots stressed that the hub “uses bags that are 100% recyclable”, and that the plastic bags “mean we can deliver medicines to patients in a way that is safe, clean, dry and durable”.
The multiple is considering alternative packaging with similar qualities, and will move to these “as soon as we can”, it added.