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Boots's centralised dispensing system aims to fulfil 22 million prescriptions per year

Exclusive: Boots’s centralised dispensing support pharmacy is due to be rolled out to 580 stores over the coming months, with the intention that it will dispense 22 million prescriptions per year.

Boots pharmacy


Boots’s centralised dispensing system will be rolled out to an additional 580 stores, following a successful pilot project in 2014

The UK’s biggest pharmacy chain plans to roll out access to its dispensing support pharmacy (DSP) to 580 of its stores “over the coming months”, with the aim of it dispensing one in ten of all Boots prescriptions.

The DSP uses scanning and verification technology to check the accuracy of the items being assembled, labelled and bagged. It was piloted in 50 stores across England, Scotland and Wales in 2014, and was launched from a distribution facility in Preston in an effort to free pharmacists’ time.

As Boots currently dispenses around 220 million prescriptions annually, the centralised dispensing system could handle around 22 million prescriptions per year.

The company has confirmed that the DSP was used in 425 of its stores as of 28 June 2019, with “another 25” stores beginning to use the DSP from the week beginning 8 July 2019.

A spokesperson for Boots said that a further 50 stores would start using the DSP “in the month of August [2019]” and 80 additional stores would move to using the system “over the coming months”.

“When the rollout is completed, the DSP will dispense 1 in 10 Boots prescriptions and 1 in 50 prescriptions across the UK, supporting 580 Boots stores,” they added.

Claire Anderson, chair of the English Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that she welcomed “digital innovations along with other enablers to enhance pharmacists’ patient-facing roles”.

However, she questioned whether suggestions that DSPs free up pharmacists’ time had “had proven to be the case”.

Boots faced criticism in June 2019 when some patients expressed anger after prescriptions from the DSP were provided in plastic bags. Boots claimed the plastic bags were more durable than paper ones.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206781

Readers' comments (1)

  • The above article is not only informative, but indirectly illustrates the dangers of Centralised Dispensing Systems.
    Dispensing Support Pharmacies (DSP) may be a wonderful idea in theory, but in my opinion it has a major design fault, namely, like all technology it only works in perfect conditions.
    The real world is subject to Power cuts,Internet disruption, major road disruption, heavy snow, floods and gales, any of which can prevent patients receiving their medication on time.
    In the real world, it is common for individual Community pharmacists to have braved extremes of weather or disruption to deliver to their local patients.
    It leaves me to wonder how such a fragile system as DSP ever got the go ahead from the NHS hierarchy as well as how the owners of the central dispensing system get paid and most of all how Drug Tariff discounts are applied.
    A sentence in the above article-- "The DSP uses scanning and verification technology to check the accuracy of the items
    surely begs the question "is there any point having a registered pharmacist in a branch pharmacy?
    Answer No
    Thus this excellent article has exposed the probability that patients will soon be served by "Mass Production Dispensing" and that Community Pharmacists will soon disappear and patients given advice at home via the internet, if only to be told that they will get their medication as soon as the snow melts.

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