A CONTROVERSIAL decision by Boots to charge customers for delivering some prescriptions has been labelled 'scandalous'.

Customers who wish to have their prescriptions delivered directly from the Boots stores will now be given a choice between paying a one-off charge of £5, or alternatively can subscribe to 12 months of deliveries for £55.

East Lancashire health campaigner Russ McLean said he has been contacted by a concerned 85-year-old woman, from Whalley, who has been hit by the new charge.

He said the charge amounted to an 'tax on the elderly and vulnerable', who he said would be left needing to get a taxi to collect a prescription or ask a family member to get it for them to avoid being charged.

Mr McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: "The elderly lady contacted me to say she had been phoned up by Boots in Clitheroe to say they were going to start charging her to have prescriptions delivered.

"This is scandalous, and it will mean the woman, who has been an existing customer for a long time, will have to get a relative to collect the prescription for her, or have to get a taxi.

"There may be free prescription services but many elderly people will not have access to these, and many have mobility problems, so cannot physically get their prescriptions themselves.

"This is a tax on the elderly and vulnerable."

Mr McLean said he will now be writing to Boots to express his 'outrage' at the charges.

The charges were introduced for new patients earlier this year but only came into effect for existing customers on September 30.

Free postal delivery is available for patients who make use of the Boots online prescription service.

Boots said the change is in line with other pharmacies who, for a few years, have charged for home delivery of prescriptions from stores.

Richard Bradley, Boots pharmacy director, said: “Community pharmacy is unquestionably facing challenges and we need to adapt our offer to respond. As a result, we have invested heavily in digital technologies to offer a free, easy-to-use service for delivery of repeat prescriptions ordered online. Patients who make use of the in-store service will be required to pay for delivery should they require it, with exceptions in place to cover our most vulnerable patients in circumstances where their care necessitates delivery.”