Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Pill queue


The other day I found myself in a queue at the local Boots pharmacy. I’m a regular. In front of me was someone I don’t know so I’ll call her Mrs Anxious. She was collecting a large bag of medical bits and bobs for her husband.

When the bag was handed over, Mrs Anxious was keen to impress on the staff how important it was that her next prescription should be available on time. Previously it hadn’t been and Mrs Anxious’ husband had run out of something.

As a fellow regular I had some sympathy with Mrs Anxious, but really there was no point in trying to put pressure on the pharmacy staff. She may as well have been talking to a machine because the staff would have their processes and within those processes there would be no way to give special consideration to the likes of Mrs Anxious. All the staff could do was to assure her in a roundabout way that the procedure would be followed. Which they did.

If she’d been rich and powerful then there would be some special arrangement for Mrs Anxious, but then she wouldn’t be queuing at Boots anyway. It doesn’t reflect on the staff, it’s just the way things are. To deliver an efficient service there must be processes which are adhered to.

That’s how it works, that’s how the service delivers what it is supposed to deliver with as few glitches as possible. It isn’t perfect, but in my view it’s pretty good. I moan about it but I like moaning so that’s just another benefit. We lose the personal service but when it comes to collecting prescriptions it’s not much of a loss.

I hope Mrs Anxious gets her prescription on time though. She probably will.


Sam Vega said...

The last time I visited the pharmacy in Boots I was somewhat taken aback by a group of (I assume) heroin addicts who were collecting (I assume) their methadone prescriptions. I suppose Boots is the logical place for this, but they were quite a little social club; noisy greetings, high fives, and slightly slurred chat. Then it was "down the hatch" like knocking back shorts, while little old ladies waited patiently for their medicines.

I'm not a regular. This was in Winchester. Does it happen everywhere?

Macheath said...

I have several times encountered items being out of stock from a multiple prescription and I do have a certain sympathy for Mrs Anxious - Boots' procedure and policy does seem to vary from branch to branch and sometimes the staff can be frustratingly unsympathetic; not helpful when 'just-in-time' prescribing means any delay can leave patients without essential medication.

Part of the problem is that you can't split a prescription so one pharmacy must complete it all. If it is urgent, some are happy to give it back and let you try elsewhere; others (such as my in-laws' local branch) try to hang on to it like a dog with a bone and insist on filling part of it and making you wait for the rest - I've had both with different branches of Boots (All this assumes that they have checked availability when you hand it it - some don't, so you only discover the shortfall when you collect.)

In my local branch, the response was 'here's what we have; we'll get the other on Monday if you are able to wait' (rather poetically, the follow-up item had a label attached saying 'This completes the owing') but in my parent's home town, the pharmacist popped out the back and borrowed the missing tablets from the rival chemist next door; "We'll order another box and give it to them when it comes, dear"- I'm sure it's strictly against the rules but that's small town life!

A K Haart said...

Sam - I've seen it here immediately after opening, but only two addicts and it was "down the hatch" and off. Probably common but I've never seen it later on in the day.

Mac - I use two Boots branches and both are much the same, they stick to their procedures but they do work. We live in a small town and Boots pharmacies are closely linked to local medical centres which may be an advantage with respect to stock control. I can't see either of them borrowing stock from a rival though.