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NHS England follows Boots’ lead with pharmacy UTI test and treat pilot

The at-home testing kit is paired with an app, which analyses the patient's urine sample
The at-home testing kit is paired with an app, which analyses the patient's urine sample

Thirty-eight pharmacies are offering a UTI test and treat service as part of an NHS pilot, while Boots rolls out its private service to 300 branches.

As part of an NHS England pilot, patients showing symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) are offered a free at-home urine test kit from one of 38 participating pharmacies – including independents, and branches of Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands – in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, the commissioning body said yesterday (July 17).

The kit is paired with an app, available for free from Apple's App Store or Google Play, which analyses the customer’s urine sample using the camera on their smartphone, app creator explained.

Patients are then encouraged to go back to the pharmacy for a consultation with the pharmacist to help analyse the results, NHS England said.

The kit and the consultation are free and, if needed, the pharmacist can supply antibiotics under a patient group direction at the cost of a prescription, the commissioning body said.

C+D has asked how much pharmacies receive per consultation.

Even if a patient tests negative for a UTI, they will still receive a free follow-up consultation with a pharmacist who can discuss their symptoms, treatment or a GP referral, NHS England said.

Suspected UTIs account for up to 3% of all GP visits, it said, and this new service has the potential to “free up millions of GP appointments”, therefore saving the NHS “millions of pounds”.

Samantha Travis, clinical leadership adviser for NHS England in the Midlands, said: “This pilot scheme forms part of a wider project to improve community healthcare, by making greater use of pharmacists’ skills.”

Boots’ private service

The NHS England pilot follows Boots’ trial of a private version of the service – using the same testing kits and app – in 37 of its pharmacies in London and Sheffield from December-July.

As part of the Boots service, testing kits are charged at £10 and the follow-up consultation with the pharmacist and any prescription-only medicine supplied costs an additional £15, the multiple explained. If treatment is not required, there is no charge for the pharmacist consultation, Boots added.

More than 1,000 customers accessed the service during the seven-month trial, with the majority completing the service in the same day, Boots said.

Following the success of the trial, Boots rolled out the service to nearly 300 branches across the UK.

Boots director of pharmacy services Asif Aziz said the service “shows the enhanced role that community pharmacies can play in supporting services offered by the NHS and GPs”.

“It also highlights the excellent clinical skills our pharmacists can offer, to support patients’ health in locations and at times that are convenient to them. The service can also help to support appropriate use of antibiotics,” he added.

A list of Boots pharmacies offering the private service can be found on the multiple's website.

Would you like to offer a UTI test and treat service in your pharmacy?

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Why would one pay £25 when one can simply ring up GPs and timethoprim or nitrofurantoin will then be dished out like candies for free? I literally see 0 demand here. 

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

They’ll just pay the Rx charge under the NHS pilot. 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

How about those ''entitled'' to free scripts? I bet they won't be happy to pay even a single penny for any meds.

Andrew Martin, Primary care pharmacist

What is the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value etc of this test? To be fair, the Company website says: "Our product is as accurate as the standard lab based urinalysis analyzer" but still doesn't give the numbers I want.

What are the implications of likely increasing antimicrobial use for antimicrobial stewardship?

Anything about the age of presenting patients?

I believed that a diagnosis of UTI involves more than just a urine test but should also consider enhanced clinical evaluation of the patient including frequency, dysuria, urgency, loin or back pain etc so I hope the pharmacists are well trained on analysing the results.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

The logic is, that typically, GP surgeries simply give 3 days antibiotics on a script in respose to a phone call or patient presenting, and say come back if it doesnt work, with no test at all. This is no worse and probably better AND takes people out of the surgery waiting list. its a no brainer really once surgeries learn to  release control of things they arent really doing anyway there will be a lot more.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

I’m sure there’ll be a SLA to ensure all protocol is adhered to. It’s good to see NHSE utilising the pharmacists’ skills at last. 

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