Boots launches online doctor service - need to know
Who: Boots is one of the UK's best-loved retailers, with a presence in most towns across Britain. The very first store was opened by John Boot in 1849, selling herbal alternatives to traditional medicines aimed at people who couldn't afford them. Over the years it has expanded to offer both prescription and non-prescription medicines, beauty products, food and photography services, as well as the separate Boots Opticians. There are currently over 2,400 branches in the UK, with another 500 located across Thailand, Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands, among other countries.
Boots is owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance, an American pharmaceuticals company that also owns the pharmacy chain Walgreens.
What: The company has launched Online Doctor, which gives customers access to prescription treatments and home kits without having to visit their doctor's surgery. To use the service, customers register on Boots' website and answer a series of questions about their health to guide their treatment. At the moment the service covers 45 health conditions including sexual health, eczema and migraine.
After the payment is made, a clinician reviews the order and if necessary asks follow-up questions. If the medication requested is deemed inappropriate, an alternative treatment or a refund is offered.
Why: Boots say this provides a convenient option for people who are willing to pay for treatment for non-urgent healthcare conditions, while relieving pressure on the publically-funded National Health System (NHS).
Where: The service is available online, and customers have a choice of collecting their prescription at a Boots store or getting it delivered for free in the post. In the case of testing kits, packaging is provided to mail them back to the lab, and the results are made available via the user's Boots Online Doctor account.
They say: "We see a future where patients interact with us digitally and in person in a unique blend that suits their personal preferences. Our ambition at Boots is to become everyone’s first port of call for their health – however and whenever they need us.
“We hope that by providing access to both NHS services and private healthcare on the high street or online, we can help to relieve pressure on our NHS.”
COVID-19 app for NHS staff launches as restrictions lift
A new app has launched today to support UK hospital staff who have been redeployed to care for COVID-19 patients.
The Acute COVID app has been co-developed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity CW+, along with health tech company Imagineear Health.
It provides information to healthcare staff via a step-by-step guide, aimed at both doctors and nurses. This includes the different stages of COVID-19 so they have guidance around triage at A&E, hospital admission, in-hospital treatments, and advanced care management.
The app also provides training on non-invasive ventilation. In the first wave of the pandemic the numbers of patients needing this type of ventilation led to staff who would not normally administer this to patients having to do so.
Additionally the app signposts staff to where they can access mental and physical wellbeing support, acknowledging the levels of staff burnout, particularly among frontline staff, the pandemic has created.
The launch of the app comes on the same day England lifts its COVID-19 restrictions, labelled "freedom day" by some. However infection rates have soared in recent weeks and the move has been fiercely opposed by scientists and doctors, both in the UK and abroad.
In a letter published in medical journal The Lancet backed by 1,200 international scientists, experts called the unlocking "a threat to the world", as allowing infection rates to rise enables the virus to mutate and potentially become resistant to the vaccination.
At the weekend the newly appointed health secretary Sajid Javid announced he had tested positive for coronavirus, and both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the chancellor Rishi Sunak are self-isolating.
Meanwhile in the first week of July more than 500,000 alerts were issued by the NHS Covid-19 app telling people they had been exposed to the virus. As a result businesses are considering cutting their opening hours while staff are self-isolating at home. The government has issued guidance saying that fully vaccinated frontline NHS staff in England will be allowed to carry on working even if they've come into contact with someone with COVID-19.