”This is a great service; I didn’t know that I could get this test done at my pharmacy.” Service user
Malcolm, a registered pharmacist, is Senior Manager in Projects & Contract Development at Boots UK. For him, the most expensive medicines are: “those that are either not taken, or are taken when they are not needed”, and he believes pharmacy can play a significant role in this issue.
Each year, around 1.2 million people will visit the GP with a sore throat and recent studies show that 62% of these visits result in the prescribing of antibiotics. Tests have shown that less than 10% of people who present with a sore throat actually have a bacterial infection.
In response to concerns of unnecessary GP visits for sore throats and the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics for viral infections, the sore throat test-and-treat service was developed. This is a walk-in service at community pharmacies where patients can receive screening and point of care testing for group A streptococci, which causes bacterial infections in the throat. If tested positive, patients can receive antibiotics from a pharmacist without the need to visit the GP.
Of the 367 patients that have received the service so far, two-thirds of those who would have seen their GP did not need to do so as their sore throat was viral. If this service was rolled out nationally, 800,000 GP consultations would be saved, equating to £34 million a year.
Patients using the service reported a highly positive experience, noting the convenience of having a local walk-in screening service compared to taking time off work to attend a GP consultation.
Malcolm is interested in the NIA’s support to improve the sore throat test innovation to allow greater accessibility for patients and integration within existing primary care pathways to bring the most benefit to the NHS. In addition, he hopes the NIA can provide him with the information and access to key local decision makers in order to enable conversations about how the service could be commissioned.