On Tuesday’s (January 21) edition of BBC Two’s Rip Off Britain, presenters Gloria Hunniford and Angela Rippon read letters written to the show complaining about the £5 one-off (or £55 annual) home delivery fee introduced by Boots last year.
The programme featured Sylvia Webb, an 80-year-old resident of Kegworth, Leicestershire, who has undergone heart bypass surgery and is on multiple medicines.
Ms Webb described the £55 annual cost as “an awful lot of money”, which she branded “disgusting”.
Although prescription deliveries from Boots are free for orders placed online, Ms Webb said she is “frightened of the internet”.
“They’re supposed to be chemists, they’re supposed to care for you. So why all of a sudden [are they] putting these charges on?” she asked.
In a voiceover, Ms Rippon said that numerous people have complained to the show about the charge, and that they feel Boots is “letting them down”.
Several more residents of Kegworth criticised the charge during the programme, and Ms Rippon said these patients feel “penalised” by Boots, and “forced to fork out for an essential service”.
Watch the programme on the BBC iPlayer.
Boots: No profit made from delivery fee
Boots UK pharmacy director Richard Bradley told C+D the following day (January 22) that charging for prescription deliveries from pharmacies was “not an easy decision to make”, and the company does not make a profit from charging for the service.
Mr Bradley said Boots appreciates that the change has been “difficult” for some patients, and branches still offer free delivery if a patient “genuinely has no other way” to get their prescription, or in the case of emergencies or end-of-life care.
He stressed the “hugely difficult” economic environment for community pharmacy, and said Boots “must adapt and be sustainable” to ensure it can continue to care for all patients across the UK.
Patients who prefer not to use the internet can request a freepost envelope from a pharmacy, and send their prescription to the central hub, which will post the item to customers free of charge, Boots added.
Boots is not the only multiple to make changes to its prescription delivery service in recent years, Lloydspharmacy, Rowlands and Well have also updated their policies.
Lloydspharmacy charges for all prescription deliveries – other than for housebound patients – while Rowlands provides a free delivery service for housebound patients and no paid-for option.
Well offers a similar model, with free deliveries on prescriptions ordered from its app and for housebound patients.
ITV counters “pretend doctor” comments
Bowing to pressure from more than 2,000 Ofcom complaints and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, ITV broadcast a segment of its This Morning programme yesterday that appeared to counter comments made last week that community pharmacists are “pretend doctors” who can “ambush” patients with healthy living advice.
Presenter Alice Beer spoke to Amit Sahdev, a pharmacist manager at a Well branch in Birmingham, showcasing how the sector can help patients with minor illnesses, provide confidential support and offer advice on prescription medicines, among other roles.
Watch the latest segment on the ITV website (skip to 43 mins).
Read C+D clinical editor Naimah Callachand’s reaction to the initial This Morning segment