Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login


Community pharmacy

Welsh pharmacy sore throat test and treat service ‘should not be routinely adopted’, review finds

Health Technology Wales has said that, despite “some promising evidence” around the use of rapid antigen detection tests in community pharmacies, evidence is limited overall.

Sore throat swab test


Currently, best practice for testing for the presence of group A streptococcal infection is to take a throat swab from the patient, which is then sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of the bacteria

The use of rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs) in community pharmacies for the diagnosis and management of people with group A streptococcal infections should not be routinely adopted, according to guidance from Health Technology Wales (HTW).

RADTs are point-of-care tests that can be used in primary care to help diagnose cases of sore throat caused by group A streptococcal infections and guide antibiotic prescribing decisions. Currently, best practice for testing is to take a throat swab from the patient, which is then sent away to a laboratory to test for the presence of the bacteria.

A sore throat test and treat (STTT) on-the-spot throat swab scheme, which uses RADTs, was launched in selected pharmacies in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University and Betsi Cadwaladr University health board areas in the autumn of 2018. The service was launched as part of NHS Wales’ ‘Choose pharmacy’ service and was due to be expanded to cover all seven health boards, although it has now been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, commissioned HTW to assess the use of the test, specifically in community pharmacies, because of its potential to alleviate pressure on GPs and improve the stewardship of appropriate antibiotic prescribing.

The appraisal panel found that, although there was “some promising evidence” around RADTs in community pharmacy and a health economic analysis had found it to be cost-effective, overall, the evidence was limited.

However, HTW did acknowledge that there was “a demand” for the service in Wales, adding that, where it was already being put into practice, it would be “beneficial” to encourage studies.

“Further research is recommended to demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of RADT in the community pharmacy setting,” it said.

HTW said NHS Wales “should adopt this guidance or justify why it has not been followed”.

In August 2020, a survey of 510 people who accessed the community pharmacy STTT service found that 98% said they were satisfied with the service, and, after using it, 99% of respondents stated that they would return to a pharmacy for subsequent sore throat symptoms.

In a statement, Community Pharmacy Wales said: “Previous evaluation of the service was positive with a high patient satisfaction rate, reduction in antibiotics and support from GP practices (with high referral rates from other services to the community pharmacy service).

“CPW are keen to understand more from both WG and HTW in respect of what further evidence and evaluation is required before the service can be routinely adopted within community pharmacy.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208504

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.