Boots UK shuts online mental health service to new patients

Exclusive: The multiple launched the online service in 2022, but says it is now at capacity and will be “temporarily paused” to new patients.
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Boots UK has confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that it has closed its online depression and anxiety treatment service to new patients.

The private service was launched in 2022 and offers remote access to a clinician, with regular follow-up messaging and prescription antidepressant medication, where appropriate, for a fixed monthly subscription costing £65.

However, a spokesperson for Boots told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 2 May 2024 that the service had been “temporarily paused” because it was now at capacity.

“We are currently seeing high demand for our Boots Online Doctor mental health service, which is delivered by clinicians with specialist training,” they said.

“The service is now at capacity and we have temporarily paused accepting new patients in order to maintain our high levels of care.

“We are working to increase capacity to support more patients in the near future.”

According to the service webpage, seven antidepressants are available for supply — including sertraline, citalopram, duloxetine and mirtazapine — with signposting to counselling or talking therapies also offered.

Boots says the service is only suitable for treating “mild-to-moderate” depression and anxiety.

The webpage now carries a banner stating: “Depression and anxiety treatment update: This service is only available for current patients already treated by our mental health clinicians.”

In an exclusive interview with The Pharmaceutical Journal, published in January 2022 ahead of the service’s launch, Boots then chief pharmacist Marc Donovan — who now holds the role of healthcare development and public affairs director at the multiple — said the online mental health service was developed to “help patients navigate some of the mental health demands that they have” at a time when it is “hard to access mental health support through the NHS”.

At the time, Donovan also confirmed that the service would follow National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on prescribing interventions, with all interventions overseen by a prescribing pharmacist or doctor.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.312656

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