Superdrug has expanded its free throat consultation service to now ‘test and treat’ patients. The service aims to help save GPs some of the 200,000 hours spent each year on people visiting them with a sore throat and support the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
This winter when a person presenting with a sore throat visits a Superdrug Pharmacy they will be offered a free 10-minute consultation service consisting of a series of questions to determine their symptoms. If their symptoms are determined appropriate, they are then offered a full throat examination which may include a diagnostic swab test that accurately identifies if a sore throat is viral or bacterial.
The free throat swabbing service, available in over 190 Superdrug pharmacies nationwide, will accurately be able to determine the almost 90% of sore throats caused by a virus. The pharmacist will be able to suggest the most appropriate and effective symptomatic relief and also reinforce the message that antibiotics are not required. If the result of the diagnostic swab test is positive, indicating that the patient has a bacterial sore throat, then the pharmacist is able to discuss the option of prescribing an antibiotic treatment (the antibiotics cost the price of a prescription), or refer the patient to their GP. The pharmacist is also able to advise the patient on how to reduce the transmission of the infection to others.
The launch of Superdrug’s ‘test and treat’ sore throat service is intended to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and support the fight against the very real issue of antibiotic resistance. It’ll do this because Superdrug prescribing antibiotics for a bacterial sore throat is based on a definitive diagnosis as the diagnostic tests show whether or not an antibiotic is actually needed and if so, which one is appropriate. The tests are in line with recommendation five of the Government review on antimicrobial resistance, which states that by 2020 the prescription of antibiotics will need to be informed by data and testing technology. Having rapid, low-cost and readily available diagnostics is an essential part of the solution to this urgent problem.
The service is available to people aged 18 and over. The antibiotic part of the service is not available in Northern Ireland.