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Sore throat? Now you can see your pharmacist

Patients suffering with sore throats will be able to get help and advice on their doorstep this winter from community pharmacists.

By the end of January 400 community pharmacists in Wales will have been trained to provide a Sore Throat Test-and-Treat service, saving thousands of patients a trip to their GP surgery.  Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) has been working closely with health boards to offer these clinical skills training sessions across Wales.

After talking to more than 55 pharmacies and recording 3,655 consultations HEIW has had significant positive feedback.

Now all health boards are looking to get involved in the expanded scheme. From next April, plans are underway to train a further 1,000 community pharmacists with the aim that eventually all 716 community pharmacies in Wales will offer the service.

The training provides pharmacists with the necessary skills to offer patients a new service for treating sore throat symptoms closer to home, helping to ease the pressure on health resources during the winter months. Each year an average GP will see around 120 patients with acute pharyngitis – or a sore throat.

The Sore Throat Test-and-Treat service is in addition to the successful Choose Pharmacy range of initiatives for patients offered by the community pharmacies.

Pharmacists assess symptoms, examine the patients throat and take a simple swab test if they suspect they are suffering with a bacterial infection. The results of the test are available in minutes, and the pharmacist and patient can then discuss the best treatment to manage symptoms.

The impact of the training on the pharmacists’ ability to manage acute minor illness effectively will be continually evaluated during 2020.

Professor Margaret Allan, Pharmacy Dean at HEIW said:

The Welsh Governments Healthier Wales’ ambition is to provide health and social care closer to home. This requires a healthcare workforce that is flexible and responsive to the changing needs of patient services. HEIW recognises that community pharmacists can make a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of their local communities.

“Supporting community pharmacists to develop additional clinical skills means they can become part of the multi-disciplinary team which can treat acute minor ailments in a more timely manner within patients’ localities.”


Notes to Editor: 

  • The Sore Throat Test-and-Treat service supports the Welsh Government’s objectives set out in Prudent Healthcare and A Healthier Wales to deliver effective patient-centred healthcare by investing in and maximising the skills of the whole pharmacy workforce. 
  • Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) was established on 1 October 2018. It is a special health authority within NHS Wales created by bringing together three key organisations for health: the Wales Deanery; NHS Wales’s Workforce Education and Development Services (WEDS); and the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE).  
    Sitting alongside health boards and trusts, HEIW has a leading role in the education, training, development, and shaping of the healthcare workforce in Wales. Its key functions include education and training, workforce development and modernisation, leadership development, strategic workforce planning, workforce intelligence, careers, and widening access. Further information can be found at