LloydsPharmacy has launched a new service to identify Strep A throat infections.  The nationwide Sore Throat service is designed to reduce the burden on GPs whilst supporting the growing issue of antibiotic resistance. Included is a test to determine if the patient’s sore throat requires antibiotics and if it does, the store pharmacist can immediately supply them.

Anyone 18 or over who is experiencing a sore throat can now go directly to their local LloydsPharmacy and be quickly and professional screened by the pharmacist for the bacterial infection Strep A (group A streptococcal). The walk-in service takes just a few minutes and involves a simple questionnaire, examination and mouth swab to test for the bacterial throat infection. Antibiotics will be provided to those patients who positively test for Strep A and meet the inclusion criteria as outlined in the Patient Group Direction (PGD). For those patients who do not require antibiotics, the relevant over the counter product and/or advice will be supplied to provide relief from symptoms.

Launched in 600 LloydsPharmacy stores (including Scotland and Wales), the £4.99 test offers  98% accuracy and means that instead of waiting for a GP appointment, patients can visit their local community pharmacist for both screening and antibiotics (if required).

With the increasing pressure on NHS resources, particularly over the winter period, this service is an ideal opportunity for community pharmacy to help relieve the burden on already stretched GP services. It also allows community pharmacy teams to demonstrate the important role they can play in supporting the wider national focus on appropriate antibiotic prescribing. Enabling community pharmacy to actively support patients manage minor ailments and common conditions helps support the self-care agenda.

All pharmacists delivering the service have undergone a comprehensive clinical training programme via e-learning as well as face to face to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver a positive patient outcome.

Pharmacist Pareena Patel who works in LloydsPharmacy Rubery, Worcestershire said: “Around 85% of sore throats are viral and so are not treatable by antibiotics. Almost a third of people still visit their GP with a sore throat yet the vast majority would be better off seeing a pharmacist as it is a condition which requires rest, over the counter medications to help manage symptoms and antibiotics if appropriate, all of which can now be provided in pharmacy.”

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