Rye’s Boots store prescription delivery cost is too much for the vulnerable

Prescriptions waiting to be colleted (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Prescriptions waiting to be colleted (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

From: Cllr. Sally-Ann Hart, Councillor for Eastern Rother Udimore

As district councillor for Eastern Rother, which includes some of our most elderly population, living in rural and cut off areas within our District, I am distressed at the concerns of many residents who are affected by Boots’ national decision to charge customers £5 for delivering prescriptions (or a £55 annual subscription service) from its store in Rye.

Boots have stated publicly that deliveries are not funded by the NHS and that free deliveries would be available for the “most vulnerable” (such as those with terminal illnesses). But who is ‘most vulnerable’ and who will make such decision? Many of our elderly are housebound and cannot get to Rye to pick up their medication. In addition, many elderly residents do not use the internet or have access to online facilities (the online repeat prescription service includes free postal delivery for all patients).

The issue was initially highlighted to me by an elderly resident who lives just inside the 1.62 kilometre catchment for Rye Medical Centre, in Rye Foreign. The Medical Centre is unable to dispense to patients who live 1.62km from a pharmacy. Prescriptions can be sent to a patient’s preferred pharmacy for them to collect there.

Alternatively, the paper prescription can be collected from Rye Medical Centre and taken to any pharmacy to be dispensed. Because I live in Udimore, I can collect any prescription from the Medical Centre, but all the elderly people who live right next door - in sheltered housing St Bartholomew’s Court - have to go to Boots in Rye or have their prescriptions sent, for which Boots is now charging.

This means that too many of our local elderly and sick are essentially being ‘punished’ or ‘taxed’ for being so, and I, like many others, consider this to be unjust.

I would ask Boots, as a major part of the fabric of our local community, to either reverse its decision and remember the needs and frailties of our most vulnerable, or, at the very least, to come to some sort of arrangement with local GP services, such as Rye Medical Centre, to support those in our communities who are in most need.