Prescription woes

Boots on Rye High Street.

There are many references and comments on various social media outlets (see below)  regarding the current staffing issues at Boots on Rye High Street. The chemist has to keep closing due to the lack of staff and in particular the lack of a pharmacist so their advertised opening times are hit and miss. Pharmacists are in great demand but the available supply seems to be drying up, at least locally it seems.

Rye News has been contacted by various people venting their frustration at the predicament they find themselves in, when medication is needed but unavailable the consequences are often quite serious.

One reader wrote into Rye News today, 26 July with the following request.

Dear Rye News,
Could someone do an updated story on Boots the chemist?
Yet again Boots are closed today. This is happening 2 or 3 days a week.

A local informed me that the pharmacist at Rye is now also working at Tenterden, a morning here, an afternoon there.

However, I’ve called Boots and been told that’s not true, and I asked why they don’t have a pharmacist there every day, and the staff member claimed they cannot find one to employ full time.

If you also belong to NextDoor there’s a lot of people writing about making trips all the way to Rye to collect their medication only to find they are either closed, or the pharmacy does not have their prescription despite being informed their medication is ready by text.

To compound the matter, Ferry Road Doctors Surgery will NOT allow people who live within 1 mile of Rye to go and collect their prescription.

So in theory you could live across the road from the surgery and you’re not allowed to collect. But if you live in Peasmarsh you can. Where is the logic in that? “

The complaints in this letter have been backed up by many posts on social media this week, all complaining about inaccurate opening times, lack of information, and ridiculous surgery collection procedures. Just a few among many, are here:

‘Any attempt to find them open is fraught with frustration.They proudly display opening times which are totally inaccurate.’

‘I asked to collect my prescription from Ferry Road and was told you can only collect if you live outside a one-mile radius. I live within one mile. What is this all about?’

‘I have a GP with a pharmacy just a few minutes walk, but because I live within a mile, I have to collect from elsewhere. I don’t drive and have serious heart issues. How on earth can that make sense?’

‘My daughter attended A&E at the Conquest last Saturday. They sent her prescription to Boots in Rye. I drove from Pett and it was shut. There were staff in there so I banged on the door until someone opened it. They had no pharmacist apparently, so could not open.’

Boots obviously have serious staffing issues which they are finding difficult to rectify quickly but it must be very difficult for the customer facing team who are caught in the middle, doing what they can. As a possible viable alternative, I went to the pharmacy section at Jempsons in Peasmarsh today (Tuesday 26) and spoke to a very helpful assistant as the pharmacist there was engaged in a consultation. She explained that they had seen a constant stream of people looking to register with them for medication who had experienced problems getting their prescriptions from Boots in Rye.

Jempsons (Peasmarsh) for some is not that convenient unless you live in Peasmarsh and as they are not in the centre of Rye High Street, getting their for some could be problematical, but if you can get there they are happy to take new registrations and do what they can to alleviate the situation and don’t forget, parking is easy and free if you intend driving there.

The pharmacy is open 6 days a week, 8am – 6pm (Monday to Friday) and closes at 5pm on a Saturday. You can contact them via the main switchboard on 01797 230214 option 6, the pharmacist there is Mr Anthony Samson.

Before anyone points the finger I just want to clarify that this is not an advertorial for Jempsons, I went to them not them to me but I will produce a follow up article shortly when hopefully the current situation may have improved.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .


  1. After 45 years supporting the Rye Boots and getting to know the lovely, helpful staff, it is sad to see the chemist gradually falling apart. The closing lunch times, then Saturdays, then every afternoon has been very frustrating.
    We have avoided the home delivery service because that means overworked pharmacists in an industrial unit somewhere and another fleet of white vans.
    Unwelcome news as this may be to some, the Brexit vote resulted in thousands of European pharmacists returning to their home countries, adding to the shortages here.

    • It’s a moot point whether the Brexit vote may have resulted in thousands of European pharmacists returning to their home countries. We can’t keep using Brexit as an excuse for everything. The Boots in Rye has operated just fine since the Brexit vote and for much of the pandemic, and to the best of my knowledge none of the pharmacists were Eastern European. There were always regular staff that you got to know and some had knowledge regards your health and medical needs. Now they’ve all vanished. This issue with a lack of a pharmacist and shutting the doors all day started in May 2022 when there were 4 consecutive working days where people could not get their medication, and Boots held their prescriptions. I know it to be a fact that people went on holiday forced to travel without their medication. I might add that it’s also not a simple case of picking up your medication from another branch of Boots if on holiday within the U.K.. You are told to ring the head office, and hopefully if you get to speak to anyone they will ask a Boots near your destination to dispense the medication. However, that branch of Boots also has to agree to dispense it, plus they probably need time to order it in first.

  2. From my time as a PPG member at Rye Medical Centre, I learned that it is an NHS regulation that if you live within 1 mile of a pharmacy, you must get your prescription from the pharmacy and not from your medical centre.

  3. Brexit the culprit, surely not! Even if it is, then it is highly irresponsible and unpatriotic to suggest it. We are told by government ministers that we should be talking up the benefits of leaving the EU. However, right now I’m racking my brains to find any at all.

    I learn that the American owner of Boots has recently extracted more than $5.3 billion (£4.3 billion) of dividends from its UK holding companies despite raking in hundreds of millions of pounds of government support and slashing jobs during the pandemic.

    Another example of how super-rich owners and the powerful benefit while employees and the general public face the consequences of their unbridled greed.

    It is unacceptable and shameful that those on the front line – the shop assistants, those in A & E departments et al – often get the abuse.

    So I hope that, locally, we will be showing sympathy to the staff at Boots who will be just as frustrated as their customers are in regard to the difficulties they are experiencing. I will place my blame at the door of those who are the real culprits.

  4. How strange nobody has mentioned the chemist Days next door where I go now having given up with Boots. Providing they receive the repeat prescription 3/4 days prior to the last date the medication would be ready to collect. Really no problem there at the moment.

  5. I’ll be changing pharmacy.

    Boots were closed on all my days off this week. I finally got there today. I queued for 40 minutes only to be told my medication wasn’t ready. I was given a 7 day ‘emergency’ supply. I’ve now got to hope they’ll be open at some point when I’m off to get the remaining balance.

    As someone who works weird shifts I need a reliable one pharmacy. It seems independent is the way to go. New Romney have a similar issue with Lloyds always closing but the independent New Romney Pharmacy very rarely closes. Makes you wonder are the chains paying rubbish money?

  6. Yet another trip to Boots today to see if my prescription was ready which they’d been given on the 13th July. As they don’t answer the phone I had no choice but to go in person yet again. Quelle surprise, the pharmacy was closed. They now turn off the lights over that section of Boots, however there was a pharmacist present. She said she couldn’t dispense my medication. I told her I only wanted to know if they had my prescription. They did. They confirmed they’d received it on the 13th July but not prepared it. Only 15 days and waiting. Thank heavens they aren’t life saving drugs, nevertheless they are very important. On another forum where there are more disgruntled people talking about they way they’ve been treated by Boots lack of service someone has mentioned looking at the website where you can report and share your experiences. Obviously we need to make our voices heard.

  7. I’ve commented elsewhere that it’s not just Boots in Rye that has problems, although that’s of no comfort to the folks in the town of course. The Company is up for sale and it may end up in the hands of another private equity firm. It has too many branches and will I am sure be slimmed down. If so, it sounds as if the Rye store may get the chop. What will happen then? Despite all the problems, it doubtless correctly handles thousands of prescriptions for residents in its catchment area. Who will take up that considerable slack and what do the GP’s in the area think about it?

    I hope that plans are afoot to address the issues, with all stakeholders being represented. The current situation is absurd. It baffles me that the pharmacy is said to have held on to a prescription for two weeks and has still not yet got around to fulfilling it.

  8. I’ll be surprised if Jempson’s don’t create a pharmacy in Rye, any other super market would have already thought of that but we all know why that’s not going to happen.
    Surely the two doctors surgeries have a duty of care to ensure no one has to wait two weeks but having said that it does make you wonder how important the prescription was in the first place, I certainly won’t be waiting that long or if I do the doctor will know about it.

  9. A little follow up to my comment. So despite being reassured on Saturday 30th that Boots would reorder my medication on Monday 1st… I went up to Boots on Friday 5th and they didn’t have my meds and advised I phoned the GP. I phoned ferry road who were very helpful. They informed me Boots had not ordered my meds since 24th June despite the fact I asked them to when I picked up my last lot and they assured me they would when I got given my 7 day emergency supply.

    Ferry road said they would order my meds and asked if I actually wanted them to go to Boots. I said no and they said they’d email Jempsons and my meds would be ready to collect that afternoon. I went up to Jempsons and sure enough they were ready. I asked Jempsons to reorder and they did it there and then.

    Sorry Boots but you’ve lost me.

  10. This seems to me to be an important enough community issue for someone to engage with Boot’s at management level. Last year I had a serious issue with my local branch, which admittedly is much larger than the one in Rye. It was referred to the local manager who was superb and we had a very productive meeting to resolve my problem. It wasn’t a systemic problem on the scale that it appears to be in Rye, where the problem may indeed be caused by or exacerbated by weak local management. However, whatever the current difficulties being experienced, it would not be good for the town for it to loose the presence a national player such as Boot’s. (Maybe Lloyds could take over?)

  11. Never heard that you need to register at a chemist, I had problems getting one of my sons meds from RMCentre. Decided to take to Jempsons and so far each time have received the med the next day

  12. I finally gave up with Boots when I found out they had had my prescription for a fortnight and done nothing about it. I simply went next door to Day Lewis who were more than helpful and even sent me a text message when my prescription was ready for collection which Boots used to do “in the old days”. I suggest a mass migration to the next door pharmacist from all those frustrated by Boots which branch I am sure will go eventually.

    • I have also been in the situation where Boots had my prescription for over two weeks and had done nothing. However, if we all do a mass migration we are going to cause Day Lewis to also have problems. I’ve already spoken to the pharmacist in Jempson’s at Peasmarsh and they’ve been inundated with people wanting to make the switch from Boots. There is talk on another forum that Boots want to close their business in Rye. I have no idea if that’s true. But if it is, then obviously Rye needs a replacement, and the most obvious place would be Jempson’s in Rye to open a pharmacy.

  13. Has any one of those who have had difficulties with Boots pharmacy contacted Boots head office to tell them exactly what trouble they have..?
    Would the chemist next door to Boots Rye be able to fulfil all those new customers…?
    Is Rye news able to get more information on this subject..from the Drs practices .Boots head quarters. The locally health authority ?
    Other wise the comments listed here will just get longer …


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here