Accusations accusing the chemist chain Boots of deceiving the public over prescription charges have intensified after further evidence was unveiled.
It seems that the senior executives of the company have been guilty of revising a letter produced by an independent pharmacist.
Reports have already revealed that the largest chain of chemists in the UK have seemingly been forcing staff to take advantage of NHS schemes in order to increase profits at the company.
The changes to the letter were made by Laura Vergani; a vice-president at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the multinational company that owns Boots.
An investigation launched by Rhe Guardian newspaper has already resulted in numerous individual branches of Boots decrying the attitude of the company towards prescriptions.
And the letter indeed notes that “within any large organisation such as Boots there will be people that engage in new ways of working and those that do not”.
A direct response from Boots the chemist has been conspicuous by its absence since the issue first emerged a few weeks ago.
The practice, which has been widely reported in the media, could net Boots as much as £30 million per annum if carried out on a blanket basis at its stores.
Meanwhile, experts on the pharmacy trade have have been critical of Boots’ attitude to both the prescription issue in the first place, and now this circulated letter.
John Murphy, general secretary at the trade union the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, indeed suggested that the chemist chain appeared to be guilty of deliberate deception.
“[The letter] appears to be part of a corporate campaign to undermine the many anguished accounts of working life at Boots, sent by pharmacists to The Guardian. Such an attack must call into question the integrity of those responsible for this letter.”
The situation will be of particular concern as the NHS is strapped for cash, and could well do without needlessly contributing money to Boots’ coffers.
While Boots may have been guilty of this particular practice, and been explicitly identified, it is possible that other chemists have also behaved similarly.
This must be of considerable concern when one considers that the NHS accumulated a deficit in excess of £2.5 billion in the most recent financial year.
The current Boots organisation, while a High Street favourite, has been formed by a series of mergers and acquisitions.
In 2007, the overarching Alliance Boots company was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Stefano Pessina.
At this time its headquarters were moved to Switzerland, and Boots became the first ever FTSE 100 company bought by a private equity firm.
The revenue of the group was over £23 billion in 2013-14.