LloydsPharmacy has launched a new Strep A testing service, which it says is aimed at alleviating GP pressures and addressing the growing issue of antibiotic resistance.

The service, which costs £4.99, is available in 600 stores to customers aged 18 and over. It involves a questionnaire, examination and mouth swab to test for the bacterial throat infection. LloydsPharmacy says the test offers 98 per cent accuracy.

Customers who test positive for Strep A and meet the PGD inclusion criteria will receive penicillin, or alternatively clarithromycin if they are allergic to penicillin.

Those found not to require antibiotics will receive an over the counter product and self care advice.

Pareena Patel, a pharmacist with LloydsPharmacy, said the service would help reduce GP visits and the unnecessary use of antibiotics: “Around 85 per cent of sore throats are viral and so are not treatable by antibiotics. Almost a third of people still visit their GP with a sore throat yet the vast majority would be better off seeing a pharmacist as it is a condition that requires rest, over the counter medications to help manage symptoms and antibiotics if appropriate, all of which can now be provided in pharmacy.”

“Ideal opportunity” for pharmacy

LloydsPharmacy says: “With the increasing pressure on NHS resources, particularly over the winter period, this service is an ideal opportunity for community pharmacy to help relieve the burden on already stretched GP services.

“It also allows community pharmacy teams to demonstrate the important role they can play in supporting the wider national focus on appropriate antibiotic prescribing. Enabling community pharmacy to actively support patients to manage minor ailments and common conditions helps support the self-care agenda.”

The pharmacy multiple says pharmacists delivering the service have received a “comprehensive clinical training programme” involving e-learning and face to face training.

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