NHS England is backing Boots’ scheme through its NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme, which is designed to fast-track new treatments and technologies into the health service, it said.
However, the commissioning body stopped short of committing to a fully-funded national scheme.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee stressed on Monday (November 14) that “no central funding is being made available to commission this service” and it will be up to local clinical commissioning groups to decide whether to roll out the scheme in their areas.
NHS England told C+D yesterday (November 16) that “full plans” on how the scheme may work – including how it will be funded – “have not been developed”.
“The sore throat test and treat service is not a national scheme”, NHS England added. But the NIA programme “will support scaling” of the service.
"The NIA has been successful in supporting 17 innovations to be scaled across 389 NHS organisations since its launch in 2015," it added.
The scheme, designed to prevent antibiotic resistance and reduce GPs’ workload, will see community pharmacists conduct throat swab tests to determine whether patients need antibiotics.
Boots estimates that an additional 800,000 patients could potentially be seen in community pharmacy, rather than general practice, if the service is rolled out nationwide.
However, C+D readers have raised concerns around the benefits of the scheme and how it will be funded.