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Boots faces check-up over “targets” for unnecessary tests

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An official investigation may soon be launched against Boots over claims that it has been pushing patients to undergo medicine reviews in order to take money from the NHS.

Boots came under fire last week when it was accused of pressuring employees to meet maximum store quotas for Medicine User Reviews (MURs). For each MUR, Boots would receive £28 from the NHS. According to a number of employees, as well as an email leaked by The Guardian, Boots has long been expecting managers to have as many MURs carried out as possible, regardless of whether patients needed or wanted them.

In the leaked email, a Boots regional manager discussed “targets of 400” MURs, with 400 being the maximum number that a store can carry out in a year. It referred to the fact that the company can make “£28 for each” MUR, and so “each one we don’t deliver is a lost £28.”

The General Pharmaceutical Council has asked the Pharmacist Defence Association (PDA) to provide any evidence that managers have been pressured by the pharmaceutical chain to meet targets for MURs.

The PDA has claimed that according to an as-yet unpublished member survey, over 75% of pharmacists polled believed patient safety was “directly impacted” by financial cutbacks from Boots, increasing pressure to increase funds using MURs.

“The health and wellbeing of all our colleagues is, and always has been, a priority for the business,” Boots said in a statement to The Drum in response to the accusations.

“Offering the best care to patients is at the heart of everything we do and this includes offering pharmacy services that are relevant to the changing needs of patients and healthcare systems. Our pharmacists are empowered to use their professional judgement to assess the appropriateness of a clinical service, and we make it clear to our colleagues that these services should not be undertaken inappropriately.”

Published on Tuesday 19 April by Philip Gallagher

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