/ Health

Boots health checks – are you happy to pay?

If you live near some branches of Boots, you can now pop in and get a sore throat check for £7.50 or a skin cancer check for £35. But how happy would you be to pay for health services you can also get free on the NHS?

It seems that barely a week goes by without tales of new health checks or services that you can buy, offering perhaps greater convenience or speedier service.

As well as the Boots services, which may be rolled out further across the country, private GP home visits are provisionally scheduled to start this summer.

The idea is that you’ll be able to summon a doctor as easily as calling an Uber cab and whichever GP is nearest will get your business and be straight to your front door. The GP might be able to diagnosis, treat, refer, provide medical letters and prescribe medication, as required.

Modern services for busy people?

Are such ideas simply modern services for busy people happy to pay to skip NHS queues – with the added bonus of relieving pressure on an already stretched public healthcare system?

In a sense the argument is no different to one we’ve been having about private health care for many years.

Some people, lucky enough to be able to afford it, already pay for certain aspects of their care. For example, many people are able and content to shell out for a private dentist in an effort to avoid lengthy queues or long waiting times.

So is the idea of popping into your local high street chemist for a check-up or paying for a private home doctor service to ease your mind about some ache or pain, any different?

Would you be happy to pay? And how would you feel, for example, if the GP who visited you via that Uber-style 24 hours a day, seven days a week service was the same one that you usually saw anyway at your local surgery…just by waiting a bit longer.

Would you really be happy to pay in the hope of getting a more prompt and convenient service or would you prefer to rely on the NHS?


This will create a two tier health service. – yet another indication of gradual privatisation of the NHS.

If health checks are carried out at Boots by qualified practitioners who are able to prescribe antibiotics for example for minor problems that you would hesitate to contact your GP and wait up to 3 weeks for an appointment, then I would willingly pay a small amount. I would hesitate to use this service for a potentially more serious problem such as skin cancer when you would need a specialists referral.

I always see a different Doctor when I visit my local practice anyway so it wouldn’t make much difference to me, as long as I knew he/she was sufficiently qualified to practice.


And privatisation creeps furtively into the Health Service. I have a problem with this in many ways, but one is very simple: if GPs will be ‘free’ to do private visits, how come NHS patients have to wait?

I’d be fascinated to see the justification behind the idea. Boots wants to make money, of course – pure and simple – but GPs are already being paid by the NHS. If the argument is that it will reduce stress on the service, then bring in fines for those who make completely unnecessary calls, but don’t make people pay up front.


Where I live you would be extremely lucky to get a GP out from my local practice to visit. If you are still able to drive, they expect you to get up from your sick bed with a high temperature and breathing difficulties and visit the practice. The only time I have received a visit from a GP in the 26 years I have lived here has been from the out of hours service.


There seems to have been a mix of private and NHS for years. Doctors all charge for some services – for the information required to retain certain driving permissions over 70, for some vaccinations, and consultants mix private and NHS.

We do abuse the NHS. A friend recently went to an eye clinic. 24 appointments had been made. At least 10 had not shown up for theirs when he was seen. Perhaps we should pay a deposit when we are given an appointment and get it refunded when we attend – or lose it unless you have a good reason and generally cancelled it in advance.

Mike S says:
18 May 2016

Many appointments are missed when the car park is full making it impossible to attend. This is particularly true in rural areas where there is no bus alternative.


Surprise,surprise didnt anybody see this coming ?, Ian certainly has it figured out . Who owns Boots — it wouldnt be Walgreen’s-USA would it ? One of this biggest pharmaceutical companies in America -think Walmart(ASDA ) then think Walgreens and guess what ? they have a Pharmaceutical Wholesale division supplying—-hospitals . Score out NHS England rename MHE (medical “help ” England ) only the “help ” will be them helping themselves to your money . Can nobody here see(apart from Ian ) that our “beloved ” government is determined to FULLY privatize the NHS . Look forward to mass immigration to Scotland who wont allow it and are responsible for the NHS there. And for those that dont agree just wait 10/20 years from now .


To be fair, Wales isn’t allowing it, either.


Right on Ian ! missed that one , watch out for large increase in population of Wales.


How can Scotland or Wales stop what Boots are proposing to do? If the service is what people want then they will use it and consider it good value for money.