An on-the-spot sore throat swab service is now available at 48 community pharmacies across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the Cwm Taf University Health Board in Wales.
Patients will be offered the swab test, if required, after being clinically examined by a pharmacist. It is expected that the service will serve a dual advantage of relieving pressure on GPs and tackling antibiotic resistance.
The swab test which gives results in a few minutes will help determine if the aetiology of the sore throat is viral or bacterial. In case of a bacterial infection, the patient may be prescribed antibiotics by the pharmacist, thus eliminating the need to visit a GP. The service is being piloted as a part of the 'Choose Pharmacy Service,' initiative which is promoting pharmacist-led care for common conditions such as indigestion, hay fever, conjunctivitis and sore throats, thereby reducing the burden on GPs.
Wales witnesses ~180,000 GP consultations for sore throat every year. 122,000 antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed for sore throat in 2016. Cheryl Way, Lead Clinical Pharmacist at NHS Wales Informatics Service, said: "Community pharmacists are well placed to help to manage patients with sore throat and to refer for further investigation if there are signs of more complex infection."