This company is cashing in on the UK’s GP shortage and making you pay for routine check-ups

Support us and go ad-free

Britain’s biggest high-street pharmacy chain has come under fire for cashing in on the UK’s GP shortage by charging the public for routine check-ups that are normally free on the NHS. For the past three months, Boots has become the latest beneficiary in the privatisation of health by stealth – selling melanoma scans for £35 per mole.

Back in 2015, pharmacists were actively encouraged by policymakers to play a bigger role in the NHS, to help make up for increasingly serious GP shortfall. But Boots has arguably taken this role a step too far. Taking advantage of the increasingly long wait to see a GP and harried workers’ need for a more convenient way of accessing health advice, the company is coming under fire by the medical profession for an act of disaster capitalism – profiteering from the erosion of the NHS.

Dr. Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee warned of the quiet replacement of GPs services by private companies back in April saying:

GPs welcome the opportunity to work with pharmacists collaboratively but they have concerns when there becomes a degree of competition between the two. We need to be careful that we’re not promoting pharmacies in a way that ends up with patients having to pay for things they would otherwise get free on the NHS.

This is not an isolated incident. Back in April Boots was exposed pressuring its own staff to give customers unnecessary ‘medicine use reviews’ (MURs)  – designed to give people wellness advice and tips on managing their medicines – so it could claim money from the NHS. Pharmacies get paid £28 per MUR.

Evidence then surfaced that Boots employees were being told by bosses during a company ‘away day’ that they had to aim to get 400 MURs per store – the maximum number of reviews that a single branch can get from the NHS – in a direct bid to milk the system. At a time of NHS pay freezes, Boots fleeced the NHS of up to £30m per year.

A possible explanation for this can be seen in the company’s more recent history. Back in 2014, following a £12 m buyout led by a private equity company, it ceased to be the home-grown business the pubic had learned to trust. It is now effectively owned by US multinational Walgreens. Boots then began a major restructuring plan and was also found to be taking advantage of tax loopholes that drain our NHS. It looks like our friendly pharmacist has taken a turn for the worse.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed