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Community pharmacy services

Pharmacy sore throat test-and-treat service prescribes antibiotics in only a fifth of cases

More than 3,000 patients in Wales have received community-pharmacy based consultations for sore throat since a pilot ‘test and treat’ service began in November 2018, Vaughan Gething, Welsh minister for health and social services, has said.

Gething also said that half of all Welsh community pharmacies could be providing the service this winter.

The pilot has been running in 70 community pharmacies in the Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr local health board areas. As part of the service, pharmacists conduct a swab test to find out if a patient’s sore throat was caused by a viral or a bacterial infection. Patients with viral infections, which cannot be treated with antibiotics, were offered advice on symptom relief and recovery.

Speaking in the Welsh Assembly on 25 September 2019, Gething said that 3,655 consultations have been recorded under the service. Of these, he said, only 752 (20%) cases required a prescription of antibiotics.

Gething added that “we expect 50% of community pharmacies across Wales to be able to provide that [service] through the winter”.

Efi Mantzourani, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice at Cardiff University and research and evaluation lead for Choose Pharmacy at NHS Wales Informatics Service, was part of the team that developed the service and she said the scheme’s expansion showed the commitment of Welsh health boards to develop the role of community pharmacists in managing acute minor conditions within NHS Wales.

“The sore throat test and treat service is a great example of how services can be developed and commissioned to support the delivery of the pharmacy vision for Wales Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales’,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207117

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