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Boots: 'Too early' for government focus on hub-and-spoke

Boots: Automation is in its infancy

Centralised dispensing must not replace face-to-face care, the health and beauty giant says


It is “too early” for the government to base its pharmacy funding decisions on hub-and-spoke technology, Boots has said.

The Department of Health (DH) believes that changing the law to allow independent pharmacies to dispense medicines from a central hub will lower contractors' operating costs, it said last week (January 22). Encouraging the use of this model is one way to make the sector more "efficient and innovative", it said in a briefing document explaining the planned 6% cut to pharmacy funding.

But Boots pharmacy operations director Peter Bainbridge told C+D that automated dispensing is “in its infancy”. "It is too early for the government to make settlement decisions [based] on this technology," he said.

Boots' centralised dispensing system

While centralised dispensing can “support...face-to-face advice from a health professional”, it must not replace it, he stressed. "[Pharmacists] need to be where people live and work," he added.

Boots is in the "early stages" of piloting its dispensing support pharmacy, which is an “alternative” to the hub-and-spoke model, Mr Bainbridge told C+D.

The pharmacy, which launched in Preston in 2014, is designed to “free up pharmacists” from dispensing and allow them to spend more time with patients, he said. The system differs from a hub-and-spoke model because the prescription remains in-store at all times.

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge predicted last year that hubs could dispense up to two-thirds of England’s prescriptions. Last November, the government announced that a consultation into changing the law to allow independents to operate hub-and-spoke dispensing will begin "early" this year.


More hub and spoke news...

All Day Lewis pharmacies to use hub-and-spoke by 2018

NPA: Do not worship ‘false gods’ of hub-and-spoke

Hub and spoke: Where does pharmacy stand?



Would hub-and-spoke dispensing benefit your patients?

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James Spiral, Community pharmacist

I now realise the government view pharmacy as an expensive block on the free flow of scripts from robotic dispensing to patient! 

David Pattinson, Community pharmacist

Where will the pharmacy be with hub & spoke and prescriptions to your door in ten years time?!

Probably not where people live and work!

In Doctors surgeries?! 




M Yang, Community pharmacist

It's possible Boots crunched the numbers and realised that it wouldn't be as profitable as they initially believed.

Interestingly, Boots have remained very quiet about the 6% cut in funding. Could this be connected to their lukewarm attitude toward hub and spoke? I know hub and spoke is supposedly a way to reduce costs but I wonder if this threat to their dispensing business has meant a rethink of whether they can afford to do new things.

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

I think its as much to do with the other products it sells , and wouldn't have a base for such (  its make up brand costs pennies to manufacture and sells for ££££'s )

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

Why are Boots suddenly the spokesperson for Pharmacy ?  They normally speak with " forked tongue " . 

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Lots of advertising for C&D in situations vacant ? Money always talks.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

blimey... they took their time to work that out

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Majority if not all repeat rxs dont need a pharmacist intervention. It can beperfomed  by ACTs. 


Thats why multiples use ACTs.....

P M, Community pharmacist

sami your doing it again .. 


Chris ., Community pharmacist

Ignore the pathetic child.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

What am i doing again sir? Its Mr sami to you

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Majority of RXs (70%) are repeat diespensing.....dont need much interaction.....more important patients recieve their meds on time....


oh i forgot...FAKE MURs on regular meds.....LOL

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I used to worry about Hub and Spoke models. Now I worry about Hub and no spoke.  DOH want to make pharmacies a dumbed down supply only service and we must not let that happen. I agree with others that we are partly to blame as we let the pharmacy contract focus on volume and nothing else. 

John Alan James Robinson, Superintendent Pharmacist

If they really think that the prescription journey is slowed down by the pharmacy, they need to think again. Hospitals, some with robots, keep their patients waiting for up to 45 minutes. I have heard that some multiple pharmacies insist that patients return in 30 minutes because the pharmacist is doing an MUR. EPS , repeat prescriptions , online disasters mean waiting times between 5 minutes and 3 weeks. And now hubs with no spokes. Wow progress ?????

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

It was back in September last year that Keith Ridge suggested that 2/3 of scripts could be dispensed by the Hub'n'Spoke model. He saw it as “more efficient and safer” and could free up "highly trained staff". Strange that a major player such as Boots now appears to be so lukewarm about the idea. Maybe not such a good idea after all.

C A, Community pharmacist

Possibly because Boots have run through the costs and realise that they can't save £25k per pharmacy? Especially if the DOH are going to want pharmacists in branches as they are "highly trained staff", unless they are talking about HCA...?  Boots should also realise (unlike the DOH) that people don't like waiting three days for their medication to be ready. The number of people I had in today asking why there medicine wasn't ready when they ordered it Monday... One even when so far as to say she had phoned the surgery and they had said her script was ready and wanted to complain (she did get a nice explaination and left with her medication, promptly dispensed, though still had a face on her). So the problem is that the DOH, the Government and the public in general don't know what Pharmacy does or why it does it... and why it takes soooo long...

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