UK pharmacy chain allegedly rorting the system

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The largest pharmacy chain in the UK has been accused of exploiting government-funded consultation hours


The largest pharmacy chain in the UK, Boots, has been accused of beefing up profits by exploiting government-funded consultation hours

Allegations by Boots staff published in The Guardian newspaper have prompted the regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council, to call in further evidence.

The article alleged that Boots was exploiting the medicine-use reviews (MURs) program by obliging pharmacists to conduct unnecessary consultations.

NHS pays pharmacists £28 to provide MURs – advice to patients on medicine and diet – in an effort to reduce the number of people making GP consultations.

To prevent the system being abused, the maximum number of medicine-use reviews per year is set at 400 for each pharmacy. Boots managers, however, set pharmacists that number as a target that had to be met.

In addition, the newspaper suggested that Boots’ working conditions were threatening patient safety and compromising pharmacists’ professional ethics.

“To pay back billions in loans, […] the investors pursued a model of ‘stretch and extract’: stretching finances and staff to the limit – then extracting profits,” said economics commentator Aditya Chakrabortty.

“The story of Boots is, at root, about what happens when high finance preys on the High Street. The damage done to hard working professionals, to the public purse and indeed to public trust is huge.”

The owner of the Boots brand, Walgreens Boots Alliance, has shown some interest in entering the Australian market, registering its trademark with IP Australia late last year.

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