Taking a bit of a departure from the usual content of this blog, but in the same vein of filling the gaps in my failed Google searches, today I am writing about the absolute farce that is Boots (UK).
I received a rude awakening to the fact that Northern Ireland and England are completely disconnected when it comes to NHS services. The usual NHS 'Spine' EPS (Electronic Prescription Service) does not work in Northern Ireland. And English GPs no longer offer post or fax prescriptions, which is all the antiquated system in Northern Ireland understands.
Boots Online Pharmacy seemed like a handy workaround for the issue: they propose to receive the electronic prescription at their HQ in England, and then relay it to a local store where it can be collected. They promise that this service works anywhere in the UK, as long as you are registered with an English GP, and were quite happy to let me select a store in Belfast for collection. I was naturally suspicious of this being too good to be true, but they confirmed on the phone that this was absolutely fine.
A couple of working days later I was sent an email and text message saying it was ready to pick up, so I went to the nominated Boots store, only to be told that there is absolutely no way they can dispense electronic prescriptions and that is their final word on the matter.
Several phone calls to the store, online pharmacy HQ, and complaints line later, all I experienced was buck passing, with no ownership of the issue, and no suggested resolution. The store admitted this is a common occurrence! Why do they offer the option of collecting prescriptions in Northern Ireland if they have no intention of following through?!
Extremely unprofessional all around. I recommend to avoid all business with Boots.
In future I will be using Lloyds Pharmacy Echo delivery service in this scenario. Do note if you are signing up with them, take the username+password approach rather than NHS login, otherwise your account will be permanently restricted in functionality (no freeform entry, i.e. no acute prescriptions) requiring a call to their support and 2 working days to delete the account.