HIGH street chemist Boots has responded to public concerns surrounding new delivery charges.

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

Bishop Auckland pensioner Alistair Clarke expressed his concern over the charges.

He said: “I think it is wrong and expensive. The free delivery advertisements are misleading.”

The charge was introduced in July earlier this year for customers who were new to the scheme, and came into effect for existing customers September 30.

The subscription covers England, Scotland, Wales and NI, but does not include ROI.

Adam Mallaby, senior communications manager for Boots, declared: “this isn’t a decision that Boots has taken lightly.

“It is also worth noting that this change is in line with other pharmacies who, for many years, have charged for home delivery of prescriptions from stores.

“This additional service is not funded by the NHS as part of the pharmacy contract, and we do not make a profit on this service.

“Community pharmacy continues to face a number of challenges.”

Richard Bradley, pharmacy director for Boots, said: “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.”

These exceptions apply to individuals who are receiving urgent end of life or palliative care.

The delivery charge also may be wavered in cases where the pharmacy has failed to meet agreed levels of customer service and through the specific NHS reimbursement criteria.