Boots £5 prescription delivery charge 'a disgrace'
Boots' decision to charge customers £5 for delivering some prescriptions has been labelled "a disgrace".
The chemist plans to bring in the charge for existing customers from 30 September, and will offer a £55 annual subscription service.
But one relative of an elderly customer has called on people to boycott the Nottingham-based company.
Boots said deliveries were not funded by the NHS and free deliveries would be available for the "most vulnerable".
The High Street store, which has 2,485 outlets across the UK, has already begun charging new customers £5 for delivery to customers of prescriptions sent to Boots branches by GPs and handled by in-store pharmacists at the branch.
Existing customers will begin getting charged towards the end of the month.
The online service is handled by a central distribution centre and will continue to be free.
Richard Surman's 83-year-old mother Diana began using the service after her husband died in 2012.
Mr Surman, from Colchester, Essex, has called the charge "a disgrace".
"My mum's lucky because her three children live very close to her, but other people aren't so lucky," he said.
"But for me it's the bigger picture, it's not just the older vulnerable people who can't get out to Boots.
"For some, it's their only human contact."
When will in-store prescription deliveries be free?
- Patients requiring urgent end of life care
- Emergency deliveries after an urgent request from a GP
- When a pharmacy "has not met agreed levels of customer service"
- When a pharmacy is "contractually obliged" to offer delivery at no charge
He said Boots should instead add 2p on to the prices of cosmetic products to subsidise the delivery service, and is calling for a boycott of the store.
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A spokesman for the company said it would "continue to provide a free delivery service from store where [there] is a clinical need, or an emergency delivery is needed".
He said Boots had "invested heavily" in an online prescription service, which would continue to provide free deliveries and the price was "in line with other pharmacies" that had charged for the service.
Relatives and care workers of elderly customers who use the service have complained to Boots on Twitter.
One independent Leicester-based pharmacist, who did not wish to be named, said most community pharmacies did not charge and that "maybe £5 is too much".
Sohail Amjed, pharmacist and owner of Vision Pharmacy in Leicester, said he also did not charge for prescription deliveries but accepted it was getting "increasingly difficult for pharmacies".
He added: "I don't blame Boots for charging £5 for a delivery, I'm not in a position to criticise them.
"But if I was the boss of Boots I would only charge the people who could afford it.
"I would never charge the elderly or the housebound, whatever the economic climate."