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Boots MD Seb James: Data sharing between community pharmacy and the NHS could unlock huge benefits to healthcare system

14 March 2023
News Brand
  • Seb James shares his views on the power of data in unlocking better patient outcomes and value for money at Digital Health Rewired today
  • Boots and Our Future Health are extending their partnership to help more people join the UK’s largest health research programme
  • Boots has also unveiled plans to pilot a private service for diabetes screening in its pharmacies, in cities with high prevalence of type 2 diabetes

14 March 2023 – Speaking today at Digital Health Rewired in London, Managing Director of Boots Seb James said that better sharing of patient data between community pharmacy and the NHS could transform the way healthcare services are delivered.

Boots, the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer, also shared details of several new data-led initiatives at the event. It announced an extension of its partnership with the UK’s largest health research programme, Our Future Health, and a new private pilot service for diabetes screening.

Seb James, Managing Director of Boots, said: “Just as we can advise our customers which skincare product might be suitable for them – patient care should be personalised and seamless, offering complete continuity between hospital, GPs and the local pharmacy.

“Not only would this take critical strain out of the NHS system, but it would also crucially make it easier for patients to get access to the care and services they need. One way to help facilitate this is the better sharing of patient data between community pharmacy and the NHS. With patient consent, better data sharing could transform the way healthcare services are delivered.”

Seb pointed to examples of the power of Boots’ data in improving patient’s health outcomes. A recent study by Imperial College London found that loyalty card data could be an early predictor of ovarian cancer. The study tracked the spending of consenting Boots Advantage Card holders to investigate a link between a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and a pattern of buying over-the-counter pain and indigestion medications.1

At the event, Seb also revealed that Boots is extending its partnership with Our Future Health – a project that aims to create one of the most detailed pictures ever of people’s health to help transform the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.

Since last year, Boots has helped to raise awareness among its Advantage Card membership to attract volunteers to take part in the initiative. During a successful pilot in 10 stores, Boots has helped to facilitate the recruitment of over 10,000 volunteers since last summer and the partnership is now being extended to a further 10 stores this month with up to 70 stores being onboarded by the end of the year.2

Seb also talked about how Boots is expanding the range of healthcare services it offers patients both online and in stores. Boots provides services which are commissioned by, and delivered on behalf of, the NHS and offers private services digitally and in stores.

At Digital Health Rewired, Boots showcased a new private pilot diabetes screening service that will launch in May in seven stores across Manchester, London and Birmingham, as these cities have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes. The service could roll out to more stores in the next year, if there is demand from patients.

The diabetes screening service will be powered by LumiraDx’s HbA1c diagnostic test, with online booking of appointments to be available. During the screening appointment, patients will be asked a few questions to check that the service is suitable for them. If suitable, the test involves a simple finger prick where a drop of blood is taken and analysed using the LumiraDx HbA1c diagnostic test, which provides a result within seven minutes.  If the result indicates potential type 2 diabetes, the patient will be advised to discuss their result with their GP.

Seb said that Boots could deliver these tests on behalf of the NHS and welcomes conversations with national and local service commissioners. He also believes that diabetes could be a particularly suitable area to benefit from greater data sharing between community pharmacy and the NHS.

He said: “There are currently around 850,000 people living with undiagnosed diabetes3 and we want to help address that. As well as having community pharmacies like Boots perform screening tests, there could be an expanded role for diabetes management in community pharmacy. Our pharmacy team members could support with checks when patients collect their medicines and feed this information back to their GP via their patient record. That could be really powerful.”

Currently, community pharmacies in England do not have full read and write access to NHS patient health records. Last year, the Professional Record Standards Body advised that pharmacists should have full read and write access to patient records due to the nature and complexity of pharmacists’ involvement in care and treatment.


1. ‘Association Between Purchase of Over-the-Counter Medications and Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis in the Cancer Loyalty Card Study (CLOCS): Observational Case-Control Study' by James M Flanagan et al. is published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance.

2. After receiving information about Our Future Health, volunteers give their consent to join the research programme and provide secure access to their health records, complete a questionnaire and book an appointment at a Boots store. At their appointment, volunteers will have a blood sample taken by specially trained team members, plus some physical measurements including their blood pressure.

3. Diabetes UK, 2021


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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