Pharmacy advice slammed by Which?

Stick to Boots, Superdrug and supermarkets if you want to trust your pharmacy. That's the abbreviated conclusion of a 122 mystery shop Which? investigation into pharma high street quality across the UK.

Independent operators fell down the performance table - and advice from some pharmacy assistants comes in for some over-the-counter criticism.


"Independent pharmacies were worse than the leading chains and supermarkets," says Which? "Over half were unsatisfactory - the same as when we last investigated pharmacies in 2008."

The Consumers' Association used two other scenarios – one for diarrhoea and one for migraine. For the first, unsatisfactory advice given could have led to pharmacies missing a serious infection. For the second, it could also have led to medication being given, without checking for suitability.

Which? says counter assistants were significantly more likely to give poor advice than pharmacists. "Two thirds of the visits handled solely by them were rated unsatisfactory, compared with a quarter where the pharmacist either managed or was involved in the interaction."

Naming and shaming

In terms of naming and shaming, Boots, Superdrug and the supermarkets generally came out reasonably well. But in terms of unsatisfactory advice, Rowlands Pharmacy came out bottom of the table, with a 73% score compared to 17% from the supermarkets.

Surely consumers though have the right to trust any advice they receive from a pharmacy? The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the General Pharmaceutical Council claim they recognise Which's concerns and are taking steps to tackle the issues.

In the interests of fairness, note Boots' score, though generally good, still saw a disappointing 38% of visits take an Unsatisfactory score. The Co-op also looks unspectacular, with just 8% of visits receiving Good scores, and 38% Unsatisfactory.

Full Which? scores below

10 consumer rights you should know

10 consumer rights you should know

More stories