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Health Boots understaffing led to the deaths of three patients, documentary claims

UNDERSTAFFING at branches of chemist Boots has led to the deaths of patients, according to a sensational documentary airing tonight.

Whistleblower pharmacists have linked staffing pressures at the company’s outlets to dispensing errors.

Between 2012 and 2013 three people died following dispensing errors by Boots, the BBC Inside Out programme reported.

Arlene Devereaux died on her 71st birthday in November 2012 after a Boots pharmacy in Chesterfield handed her morphine tablets six times the strength of those prescribed by her GP.

Douglas Lamond and Margaret Forrest, both aged 86, died in May 2012 and November 2013 respectively.

The inquest into Mr Lamond’s death was told by a member of the pharmacy team that his Boots branch was “very busy” and staff were under pressure.

The inquest in March 2017 heard that staff kept telling their area manager that they did not have enough space to do their job, but Boots said it had no record of such concerns being raised.

Whistleblower Greg Lawton, who worked for Boots assessing staffing levels before resigning in 2015, said he was kept awake at night by his concerns over manpower.

“We spoke to pharmacists, to store managers and to area managers and what those people were saying [was that] absolutely staffing levels was flagged as an issue,” he told the programme.

Boots refused to disclose its own report into Mr Lamond’s death to the police.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk Police suggested this conflicted with the company’s “moral duty to co-operate fully with any police investigation.”

Speaking to Inside Out, Boots UK pharmacy director Richard Bradley said of Mr Lawton’s criticisms: “Greg, his opinions and his concerns, [he] left the business over two years ago and [his opinions] aren’t relevant to Boots today.

“Our pharmacies are busy places but they are safe places.”

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