Retail news: Boots offers consultations

Boots is introducing medical consultation areas in-store to provide limited NHS services for some long-term medical conditions.

The initiative comes in response to changes made to the contract for the sale of prescription drugs. Under the deal, agreed in April, pharmacies will receive less money from the government for filling prescriptions, but will now be paid to undertake some consultations traditionally handled by doctors.

Boots plans to monitor the medication that long-term sufferers of diseases such as diabetes and asthma receive.

In new stores, the consultations will be carried out in dedicated rooms, while existing branches will have screened-off areas. About 200 Boots pharmacists have already been given the requisite training, with the remaining 1800 set to follow.

'As we will get less from the NHS for medications, but more for other services, the aim is that, financially, everything will balance out,' said a Boots spokesman.

In September Boots was awarded a trial contract by the government to treat chlamydia sufferers in London. If successful, the contract will be extended to include other regions and illnesses. The decision to award the contract to the high-street chemist follows the media spotlight on long waiting lists in clinics specialising in sexually transmitted diseases.

In the publication detailing Boots' financial results for the six months to 30 September, chief executive Richard Baker said the retailer would also be looking at other opportunities, including offering advice on public-health issues such as obesity.

The Department of Health is examining proposals to add NHS branding to high-street pharmacies so the public can identify the link between the two more easily.

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