Boots could face an investigation over allegations it has been telling pharmacy staff to abuse a patient medication scheme to boost profits.

It has been reported that the UK's biggest pharmacy chain has ordered some staff to carry out medicine-use reviews (MURs) for people who do not need them.

Now the General Pharmaceutical Council, the regulator of pharmacists, is calling in evidence surrounding the allegations.

MURs are intended for patients who fall into key groups, including those discharged from hospital, those taking high-risk medicines, people with respiratory disease, and those with heart disease who are prescribed four or more medicines.

The health service pays £28 for every MUR and the NHS caps the number of MURs per pharmacy at 400 per year but critics suggest some pharmacies see this as a target to bump up profits.

Last week, the Guardian said it has seen a 2008 email from a senior manager at Boots which said: "I personally don't want colleagues to feel 'brow-beaten' but we do need to deliver our targets of 400 MCUs (medicine check-ups - another name for MURs) per store this financial year for two reasons: Delivering 400 MCUs is a measure of Excellent Patient Care. The company can make £28 profit for each MCU, so each one we don't deliver is a lost £28."

One Boots pharmacist in the Midlands told the newspaper he was directed by his managers to carry out an MUR on a man with dementia, and on himself.

Another Boots pharmacist in north-west England remembered a staff away day at which he and his colleagues were told: "400 MURs is an expectation now. We don't need to tell you that."

Boots pharmacists responding to a Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) union survey also reported being "pressurised into conducting MURs whether or not patients are eligible to receive the service" and "Boots keeps asking me for more MURs", the Guardian reported.

The General Pharmaceutical Council confirmed that it is liaising with the PDA to obtain the findings of their survey and any other relevant evidence they hold.

In a statement, the regulator said: "As the regulator it is our job to protect the health and wellbeing of patients and the public. Our standards are clear that pharmacy owners have a responsibility to enable their staff to make the care of patients their first priority and to raise concerns with the relevant authority about any issue that may affect patient care or public safety. Through our inspections of registered pharmacies we constantly monitor whether those standards are being met in the pharmacies we inspect."

Last week Boots said it did not "recognise the claims" which are not "representative of the 60,000 colleagues who work for Boots UK".