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Boots is considering offering more complex treatments in-store, including skin cancer checks and diabetes management. The company’s chief pharmacists told The Times that the NHS needed the firm to help meet some of the challenges it was facing.

But the plans have raised concerns from patient advocates. Treatments that patients could soon find in their local branch include a £7.50 sore throat check and a £35 service in which scans of patients’ moles are sent to a dermatologist for remote checking.

Chief pharmacist Marc Donovan said: “The NHS needs us to change to meet some of the challenges it is facing.” He said the treatment of minor ailments and the management of long-term conditions, once they had been diagnosed, could be done effectively by community pharmacists and the NHS “needs it”.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said she wanted to ensure any move was not a money-making exercise.

She added: “I agree that pharmacists are an under-utilised resource but we’ve got to be careful and scrutinise private providers creeping into the NHS. When they see an opportunity, is the opportunity for the patient or for their own gain?”

Boots president Simon Roberts said he saw any plans as an opportunity for the company to take “more of the pressure from elsewhere in the system”.

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