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COVID-19 – An update from Seb James

10 April 2020
Feature Healthcare


Many of you have written to us recently with kind words of support; hundreds of Boots colleagues in pharmacies and stores across the UK have received some heart-warming cards, flowers, drawings and hand-written notes of thanks. Arriving at the start of a long and challenging shift to find a thank you note taped to the store window has brightened tough days, and I sincerely thank each of you who continue to support Boots and show our dedicated colleagues respect and kindness. You can see some of these lovely notes: Here

Boots has been at the heart of healthcare in the UK for 171 years, supporting the nation through many difficult times. As this current challenge continues, I wanted to update you on our ongoing efforts to support the UK, our customers, and our amazing colleagues.

Supporting Our NHS

Boots is proud to support the NHS; helping customers and communities across the UK to access advice, prescriptions, healthcare and essential items.

When the Government asked Boots to help with testing of NHS workers, we were proud to be able to help and, in just five days, our fantastic team set up the first drive through COVID-19 test centre, dedicated to testing NHS workers. Just 14 days later, we now have 10 centres with another 10 due to be set up this week. Our role is to build and operate centres wherever the government requests them, and to recruit and train healthcare professionals, many of whom are Boots volunteers, to administer the tests. This testing programme is helping front-line NHS workers and paramedics to return to the front line as soon as they can to continue their vital work. Getting testing volumes up is a huge and complex project, and we are grateful to all our friends from Serco, the Army, The Department of Health, Public Health England, Amazon and many more who are making this possible.

We have also announced an extended partnership with The Hygiene Bank and Fareshare to distribute essential toiletries like hand cream and shower gel to NHS hospital workers and charities supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. We are especially proud to be supporting the Nightingale Hospitals with care packages for patients and staff. You can find out more about the donations: Here

Helping you and your family

We are supporting our shielded or vulnerable patients by delivering their medicines, free of charge to their homes. To help with this, we have expanded our network, recruiting 350 new delivery drivers, and adding over 400 new vehicles to deliver prescriptions every day. We are grateful for the help and support from the wider community; for example, Energy provider EDF has supplied us with 70 field engineers, who have volunteered to collect and deliver prescriptions. We offer them our sincere thanks.

We are working with volunteer networks too, and would ask that if you have arranged to pick up prescriptions for multiple people, that you speak to our pharmacy teams who will be able to arrange safe, free home delivery for shielded patients. Thank you to all the volunteers across the UK who are helping us, to help you.

Keeping our customers and colleagues safe

Personal Protective Equipment, including protective screens, face masks and gloves are regularly supplied to all our stores. Boots was one of the first retailers in the UK to supply Perspex visors to our colleagues and every store has a supply of hand sanitiser and access to hand washing facilities. Please continue to assist our teams and observe social distancing rules; collecting your prescription may take longer than usual and we value your patience.

Stores update

Earlier this week we made the decision to close a small number of our stores so that we can focus our efforts on supporting the communities that need us the most. There are over 2,400 Boots stores across the UK, and we will temporarily close around 60 of them by next Wednesday 15 April 2020. The stores that are closing are very quiet at the moment and are typically located in city centre or shopping centre locations. They are usually within a few minutes’ walk to the next closest Boots, and pharmacy colleagues from these stores will move to support our busier pharmacies.

And Finally

I would like to thank our amazing and selfless colleagues as they continue to serve on the front line supporting our patients, customers and the NHS. Whether that is our pharmacists and colleagues on the shop floor, colleagues in our warehouses, delivery drivers out on the road, or the team preparing prescriptions for patients through our free online NHS repeat prescription service*.

They are all playing crucial roles in getting the advice, healthcare, medicine and essential products to the people who need them. 

Please do continue to follow our social channels and check our website for updates and advice. Our latest video is from our Head of Pharmacy, Anne Higgins and you can watch it: Here

With warm best wishes for a happy Easter in these strange times,



Seb James

Managing Director, Boots UK and ROI


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023