Retailer Boots has responded to claims that some of its Isle of Wight branches are charging vulnerable Islanders for prescription deliveries, saying pharmacists do have the power to waive fees.
Currently Boots asks for £5 per home delivery for prescriptions – or it offers a £55 annual subscription service, although fees can be relinquished in emergencies and in exceptional circumstances.
That may include those who cannot afford to pay a delivery charge, those with no other way to get their medicine, and vulnerable patients unable to leave their homes – all of which are particularly relevant during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Isle of Wight Radio has been told that some stores on the Island, including the ones in Newport and Ryde, have issued some elderly residents with a charge.
The company says it is up to pharmacists from individual stores to make the decision as to whether to charge a customer during these ‘unprecedented times’:
“We are working hard to increase the capacity of our central facility by 30% to help manage more prescriptions and are working closely with the government and the NHS to help people get access to the medicines they need while they are at home.
“There are limited slots available for delivery of medication to customers from store, as many of our delivery drivers are over 70 and need to minimise their own social contact. We are working hard to increase the number of drivers we have, including finding other colleagues who can help out, so we would ask that people only request delivery for their medication if there is no other option available to them.
Boots’ NHS repeat prescription service can be accessed online for free.
The service can be found at boots.com or the Boots App, and the prescriptions are dispensed at a central facility and posted to customers via Royal Mail 48hr tracked service free of charge.
Alternatively, the dispensed prescription can still be collected in store.
A spokesperson said:
“We urge friends, family and neighbours to work together over the coming weeks to help their loved ones and the wider community at this time.
“We are working closely with the government and the NHS to help people get access to the medicines they need while they are at home and we thank all our customers for their support at this difficult time.”