This online service, which is completely free, will offer a new, accessible route for those affected by cancer to speak to a trained healthcare professional from the comfort of their own home.
With tens of thousands of people starting treatment for cancer while the country has been on lockdown, and many others having their treatment paused or delayed, access to remote, trusted cancer healthcare advice has never been more important.
Boots, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, has over 2,000 trained Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists (BMIPs), offering specialist information and support on cancer, its treatment and possible side effects. This has been an important community role that Boots pharmacists have provided since 2012, and in just the last year, it is estimated that its pharmacists have had over 91,500 conversations to support people who are living with cancer, or caring for people living with cancer.
To offer continued support from the BMIPs during lockdown and beyond, Boots has worked with digital healthcare provider Livi, to make this service available digitally and free of charge so more people who are sheilding, or would prefer to stay at home, can still access this important service.
Jonathan, who accessed the BMIP service after going through cancer treatment, said: “After treatment, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone, I often didn’t want to disturb people, or I didn’t want to book or make appointments. The Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist service is a great starting point – especially for those who, like me, might feel overwhelmed if they have been diagnosed. I think that this service is essential for people living with cancer. Speaking to someone who has Macmillan training reassured me. I’m glad that it’s now being made more accessible throughout COVID-19, when people may be feeling even more alone and isolated as they start or go through cancer treatment.”
Hafsa Dasu, a Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist, who is one of the first to deliver this new digital service, said: “We know that many people are nervous about going out, and access to healthcare professionals is restricted at the moment, so being able to access a pharmacist and ask questions that they might have forgotten to ask their consultant, or accessing some additional support because they might be feeling lonely or scared is so important. I’ve been a BMIP for seven years now, and it is something that’s incredibly close to my heart after several people close to me have been affected by cancer. I feel very passionate about being able to help people and provide reassurance while they are often feeling at their most vulnerable.”
Dany Bell, Treatment, Medicines & Genomics Strategic Advisor at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Before Coronavirus, many patients told us that being diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment was the scariest thing that they could imagine. These anxieties and concerns haven’t gone away – they’ve been made worse by the pandemic.
“Now, many people are also contending with isolation from loved ones as they continue to shield, uncertainty around treatment and concerns about their increased risk of contracting the virus. It is vital that people with cancer can continue to access support safely as lockdown eases, which is why we are delighted that the BMIP service is available online, allowing people to get support and advice from trained professionals from the comfort of their own homes.”
The new service will be facilitated by Boots’ digital health partner, Livi, via its online platform. Juliet Bauer, UK MD of Livi, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the critical need for better access to high-quality digital healthcare. At Livi, we want to ensure everyone gets the expert medical care they need, at the touch of a button. Coronavirus has shown digital technology can play a vital role in helping maintain continuity of care for some of our most vulnerable or in-need.
“Our partnership with Boots means those affected by cancer can quickly and safely consult with trained healthcare professionals. This is particularly paramount at this time, when access to healthcare may have been disrupted due to the pandemic.”
Boots has been working with Livi to increase accessibility in the healthcare sector, and transform the way that people access healthcare, advice and medicines in the future. Alongside launching this free virtual BMIP service, it is exploring a range of services where Boots Pharmacists will be available for face-to-face advice on Livi’s online platform.
Boots has also worked with Livi to bring Livi’s GP service to more patients and customers, by offering Boots customers an exclusive promotion to access an online consultation with Livi for £29*. Customers can speak to a Livi GP from home, work or whilst on the go. Visit boots.com for more information.
Through partnerships with the NHS, Livi now offers services in five regions across England and enables patients to see a free NHS GP by video consultation on their smartphone or tablet device.