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70 pharmacies to pilot sore throat 'test and treat' service

NHS Wales Information Service will evaluate the pilot to measure its success
NHS Wales Information Service will evaluate the pilot to measure its success

Community Pharmacy Wales has confirmed that up to 70 pharmacies across the country will take part in a sore throat ‘test and treat’ pilot later this year.

The on-the-spot sore throat swab service is designed to relieve pressure on GPs and tackle antibiotic resistance, and will “hopefully” be piloted from September, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) chief executive Russell Goodway said.

“Potentially” 35 pharmacies, in each of the Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr local health board areas, will be included in the trial, which is being funded by the Welsh government, Mr Goodway told C+D last week (April 24).

CPW “aims to have it ready in advance of November when sore throats start to peak”, he added.

Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, revealed the plan for the upcoming pilot in a Twitter conversation last month (April 18). A “phased introduction” is due to begin later this year, he said.

This will allow for the trial to have a “wedge design” – a sequential rollout of the pilot across randomly selected areas in Wales, he added.

Choose Pharmacy

The service will operate as part of the Choose Pharmacy scheme – a minor ailments service launched in 2016 and rolled out across Wales, as part of a £750,000 investment from the Welsh government.

NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) – which secured the funding for the sore throat service – “has attached a research role to Choose Pharmacy”, and will evaluate the pilot to measure its success, Mr Goodway confirmed.

Training

Pharmacists involved in the service will receive face-to-face training from the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE), Mr Goodway said.

Debra Roberts, WCPPE head of programme development, told C+D she had a meeting with NWIS to discuss “the preliminaries about [providing] the training” for the service. However “nothing has been finalised”, she stressed.

NHS England announced in 2016 it was backing an on-the-spot sore throat swab service in pharmacies – first piloted by Boots in 2014 – to relieve pressure on the NHS, free-up GP appointments, and tackle antibiotic resistance.

C+D reported last year that up to 200 pharmacies were providing a ‘test and treat’ sore throat service to help offset the funding cuts in England.

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