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Boots still deciding on fees for sore throat scheme

Boots: No date confirmed for when the scheme will be rolled out

Boots and NHS England have not decided how much contractors will be paid for providing a sore throat ‘test and treat’ service and when it will to be rolled out nationwide, C+D has learned.

The multiple is currently working with the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) team – the NHS England programme backing the Boots service – to determine “how best to bring this innovation to market”, a spokesperson for Boots told C+D yesterday (November 15).

This includes the cost of set up and provision of the service, and how pharmacies will be paid for providing the test to patients with a sore throat, it added.

The scheme is based on a pilot which ran across 35 Boots pharmacies in 2014-15. However, many of the details of how this service will translate to a national scale are “yet to be finalised”, Boots said.

Through the national roll out, the multiple aims to reduce antibiotic resistance and relieve pressures on GPs. “This service needs to be adopted at scale, across the country”, to have the desired impact, the multiple added.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with national and local commissioners to facilitate the delivery of this service through the whole of community pharmacy,” the multiple said. 

Boots "looking forward" to working with the NIA

During the pilot, patients paid £7.50 for the test and a further £10 if antibiotics were supplied. In response to C+D’s question as to whether the costs would remain the same when the scheme is expanded, Boots said: “The costs used, and outlined in the published findings, were established to cover the expected costs of provision of the pilot.

"Now that it is complete, we will be working with the NIA, and local and national commissioners to understand the best model for bringing the innovation to market.” 

Boots could not confirm how much pharmacists would get paid for providing the service, but stressed that “payment would be the same for all patients that receive the test”.

Boots’ training package offered to pharmacists during the pilot scheme is “very likely” to be used for the England-wide service, it added. 

“We look forward to working with commissioners of the service to understand how the training of such a service could be delivered.”

Are you interested in undergoing training for the sore throat test service?

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Anyone assessed this service model for conflict of interest? A company that has openly flaunted MUR numbers, and is now in discussion with the NHS over another paid service - the mind boggles! And more importantly, discussions like these do not help with the confidence of what goes on in the NHS - why are you discussing this with one private, venture-capitalist company? Surely, due dilligence says that there should be a fair representation to discuss this with - absolutely appalling!

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

I agree Meera but when mentioned(at least on here) it' would either be removed by the editor or a Boots apologist will launch a spurious defence.

As mentioned previously this set up invites accusations of corruption or at least an awkward conflict of interest, despite the Boots man Dave Downham childishly making light of it. Maybe Dave would more readily accept how dosdgy this all is if it was occurring in a South American banana republic. Just because it's UK doesn't mean all is well.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical


Dave Downham, Manager

Rhubarb crumble. (About as informed a comment.)

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Is a Innovation Accelerator a machine similar to the large hadron collider? 

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Does anybody have any dates on the earwax removal scheme? Is the payment per ear? And do I have to buy my own otoscope? 

Sam Patel, Community pharmacist

and get paid on thethe ammount of wax removed?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

And I know this might sound stupid, but for the upcoming verruca removal scheme, is it true you are allowed to offer the gaffer tape removal method if you are really busy? Thanks in advance. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Just don't ask about the constipation scheme...

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist conjunction with Dynorod

Yuna Mason, Sales

Perhaps the fee should be based on patient outcomes rather than being volume based. I fear if Boots are in charge this will never happen. I think it's also about increasing footfall and probably selling some cosmetics to the patient at the same time. Is there a conflict of interest in this working relationship with the NHS? And was the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer involved in the decision to roll this out based on what sounds like junk science?

anatoly sikorski, Communications

I think the common theme is WHY SHOULD I PAY.   To advertise this in the media would be a no brainer .  

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I think, after all that happened with the MURs, the DoH is brave to come up with this scheme for Boots. I can confidently predict that you Boots pharmacists will be pressurised to do a large number of these tests, there will be targets and you guys will be driven to invent, sorry, I meant "discover" sore throats, real or otherwise.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Case of the tail wagging the dog...

Sobhash Jethwa, Community pharmacist

Why would my "client" pay £17.50 to obtain antibiotics for sore throat. He/she will still go the the GP for the free service. Incidentally the service will be provided by Boots rather than the NHS. Start of back door privatision. Other companies are also lined up to provide the service

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Brown envelope time? More to the point is since when did Boots represent me? SOS

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

maybe its only Boots who will be doing it nationally . Unless someone writes a pgd enabling us mere pharmacists to give out antibiotic it will have to be a prescribing pharmacist- and which indepenent/small contractor chain will have enough of those floating around

Nat Mitchell, Community pharmacist

The influence of Boots over an NHS scheme seems a bit odd to me.

Not quite sure what I think of this idea to be honest.  Are sore throats really that big an issue?  The Guardian article I read was written by a GP, so there will be some inherent bias there I'm afraid.

Where does this sit with the free at point of care principle?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

If you read the Guardian report that Shaun helpfully provided in the previous C&D article on this subject, as well as the observations of individual Pharmacists, then there would appear to be very little to commend in this new “service”.

All those front page articles last week about this wondrous new Pharmacy service may merely be Boots attempting to spin some positive publicity to offset all the public allegations of MUR abuse earlier this year.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Why on earth are Boots deciding how much everyone should be paid??? They are contractors the same as everyone else. This seems to prove that PSNC, NHS England, GPhC et al are all in the back pocket of Boots.

Oh, and in answer to the question at the bottom of the page, no I'm not interested because I don't have time to add another worthless service that people don't want to pay for to the 'To do' list.

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

Misleading Headline.  Boots do not pay Pharmacists any extra for services carried out.   

They do however performance manage them out of the business if they don't do sufficient.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Very true comment....performance manage......choose which door you want to exit. I remember one poor pharmacist whom I went to represent as I was a rep for BPA and a PDA member. Fortunately, we managed to persuade them to keep her on. but you know lots of pharmacist don't know how to represent themselves. I just looked at her MUR performance over 12 month and argued pro rata she was doing well. But if management don't like the cut of your jib that's it, we need to make sure pharmacists have good representation. I got my experience as an USDAW activist and Labour councillor representing shop workers and constituents. A skill that pharmacist need to build upon.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

"how much pharmacists will be paid... "

Surely a misprint - shouldn't it be "how much contractors will be paid..."?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

One Boots representative in a LPC meeting (in which I was present) once said "what is good for Boots is good for pharmacy as a whole" - such arrogance.

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