Boots is planning to invest more than £3.5 million to accelerate its capacity to offer prescribing services in its stores across England.
The company is inviting 500 of its pharmacists to apply for a bursary which will cover the cost of pharmacist independent prescriber (PIP) courses starting this September.
The value of the bursary is up to £7,000 per pharmacist, and it will enable time off work for those who need it to complete the training.
The move by Boots will support its current pharmacists to gain this qualification via courses accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). From 2026, all qualified pharmacists will be able to prescribe as part of new curricula for pharmacy degrees.
Under current GPhC guidelines and with an independent prescribing qualification, pharmacists can prescribe autonomously for any condition within their clinical competence.
Marc Donovan, the chief pharmacist at Boots, said the ambition of the company was “to have a pharmacist prescriber available at every store”.
He added: “Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals that, with the right training and support, will be fully equipped to prescribe certain medicines as well as dispense them. This will give patients greater and more convenient access to the medicines they need.”
“Our investment in training for 500 pharmacists and our private service for England demonstrates our commitment to the future potential for prescribing in community pharmacies, which we believe will save time and money for GPs and other parts of the NHS.”
Boots has already trialled an In-Store Private Prescribing Service — which costs £14.99 per consultation — is now available in 10 stores in England. The multiple also offers NHS commissioned prescribing services in 15 stores in Scotland and six in Wales.
Boots also delivers the Pharmacy First Plus service in Scotland and the PIP service in Wales in select stores. Under these schemes, pharmacist prescribing is free for NHS patients.