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Boots pharmacists support NHS 111 service during COVID-19

21 April 2020

Isolating Boots pharmacists are providing a boost to the NHS 111 triage service by giving pharmacy advice to patients over the phone. 

Providing capacity to support thousands more patients every week, this new service began trials with 12 pharmacists last week, and has officially launched today. 

With the UK public asked to stay at home, patients who call the NHS 111 service with medicine or minor ailment queries could now be supported with information, support and advice from a pharmacist over the phone.  

Boots Pharmacist, Debbie Churcher, who was one of the first pharmacists to take calls on the NHS 111 triage system, said: “As pharmacists, we see patients every day in the community who have questions about their medicines, a minor ailment or concerns about new medicines that they may have been prescribed. With the many people currently isolating at home, patients don’t have the same access to community healthcare, so what we’re seeing is more calls to NHS 111. I’m really proud that Boots can support the NHS in this way.” 

Calls are managed through the NHS 111 triage system so healthcare professionals can work remotely. This means that Boots pharmacists who are currently shielded or self-isolating can now (if they choose to) continue to provide care for patients and the community, even though they are at home. 

Boots is rapidly adapting to support the NHS and Government, using its vast experience and resources to help relieve pressure on valuable health services. The NHS 111 pharmacy triage service was developed, with a training framework and support from pharmacy regulators in just a few weeks. 

Richard Bradley, Pharmacy Director for Boots UK, said: “Boots is a company with a rich heritage in stepping forward in times of national crisis, and this is absolutely one of those occasions – our amazing colleagues are doing a crucial job to help keep the nation healthy. The NHS is under an enormous pressure, and particularly with more people isolating at home, services like NHS 111 become even more vital. Our pharmacists have taken up this opportunity; many of whom are shielded themselves. Our incredible pharmacy training team has also created a framework that we are sharing among the pharmacy industry so our colleagues across other businesses can also join this service in the future.” 

Boots is also supporting the Government with COVID-19 testing centres at dedicated drive through facilities and around 200 Boots colleagues have already stepped forward to run the testing sites. All volunteers will also have additional special training, developed by the NHS, and delivered by the Boots training team.