Think you need a prescription? Before ringing for a GP appointment, check out the 22 pharmacists in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot who can now give you antibiotics for sore throats caused by a bacterial infection.
The pharmacies (listed below) are offering an as-you-wait swab test which determines immediately if your sore throat is caused by a strep infection. If it is, they can give you antibiotics there and then.
If it’s not, then antibiotics won’t help, and you’ll be offered paracetamol or ibuprofen instead.
The 20 pharmacies are the first in the Swansea Bay University Health Board area to offer the new service from 1st December, but more will be coming on board in the following months. The service is free and no appointment is necessary.
The pharmacists have had extra training to offer the new service, which is designed to make it easier for people to get quick and effective care for a common, but very uncomfortable condition. It also means that GPs’ time which was spent seeing patients with sore throats every day can now be spent with other patients - who might have more complex health needs - instead.
And another important benefit is that it prevents antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily. GPs don’t have access to instant testing, so traditionally have prescribed antibiotics based on symptoms alone, rather than checking the type of bug causing it.
This has meant sore throats caused by viruses, rather than bacteria, have been inappropriately treated with antibiotics. Not only is this pointless - as antibiotics don’t work against viruses - but it increases the serious worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance, where over-use of antibiotics means more and more are losing the ability to fight infections.
Taking antibiotics you don’t need isn’t good for you generally either, as they can lead to upset stomachs because the healthy flora in your gut is affected by them.
The new service, called the Community Pharmacy Sore Throat Test and Treat service (STTT), is expected to benefit thousands of patients a year across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. It follows successful pilots in two other health board areas in Wales (Betsi Cadwaladr and Cwm Taf UHBs).
Umar Hussain, Primary Pharmacist at Lloyds Pharmacy, Baglan, said:
“This new service can save a lot of time for patients. A surgery may only have an appointment free in the evening or a few days later, but here they can walk in and may only need to wait 10 to 20 minutes.
“We advise people to come see us within the first 48 to 72 hours of symptoms.
“The whole consultation process only takes 10 minutes or so, and that includes us asking questions, carrying out a swab test if needed and giving advice on how to treat the sore throat, including medication if required.
“Patients don’t have to take medication, but if they decide to, we can either prescribe an antibiotic – just like a GP would - where needed, or suggest other remedies that are available in the pharmacy.”
Across Wales, sore throats account for about 180,000 GP consultations each year. Most are down to viruses, and get better on their own. In the pilot areas where STTT has been trialled, only 20% of cases actually needed, and were then given, antibiotics by the community pharmacists.
The pharmacists are trained to pick up more serious infections too, and can refer patients to GPs if necessary.
Training is provided by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW). It is training 400 community pharmacists to take part in the scheme across Wales.
Patient response in the Cwm Taf trial area has been very positive, with 99% of the 310 patients who provided feedback saying they would choose to use their pharmacy over their GP surgery if they had a sore throat again.
The new walk-in STTT service is available to people over the age of six, who are living in Wales and are listed with a Welsh GP. The service is free and no appointment is necessary. However, depending on the availability of the pharmacist patients may need to wait to be seen. Your GP will be advised within 24 hours of using the service so your medical record is kept up to date.
The service is available at the following community pharmacies from 1st December:
Lloyds Pharmacy, Shop 6 Morriston Road, Port Talbot, SA12 6TH
Lloyds Pharmacy, Port Talbot resource Centre, Moor Road, SA12 7BJ
Well Pharmacy, 127 Station Road, Port Talbot, SA13 1NR
Williams & Wheeler Ltd, 56 Commercial Road, Taibach, SA13 1LG
The Health Dispensary, 153 Windsor Road, Neath, SA11 1NU
Davies Chemist Ltd, The Quays, Briton Ferry, SA11 2FP
D R Cecil Jones Ltd, The Vale of Neath Pharmacy, Chain Road, Glynneath, SA11 5HP
Davies Chemist Ltd, Ynysfach Ave, Resolven, SA11 4LN
Lloyds Pharmacy, 62, Herbert St, Pontardawe, SA8 4ED
Lloyds Pharmacy, 4, Strawberry Place, Morriston, SA6 7AG
Well Pharmacy, 103 Woodfield Street, Morriston, SA6 8AS
Kevin Thomas Pharmacy, 45 St Helens Road, Swansea SA1 4BB
Mountain View Pharmacy, 53, Mayhill Road, Swansea, SA1 6TD
Well Pharmacy, 147 Ravenhill Road, Swansea, SA5 5AH
Well Pharmacy, The Beacon Centre, Swansea, SA1 8QY
Well Pharmacy, 5 Dilwyn Road, Sketty, Swansea, SA2 9AQ
Boots Chemist, Unit 5, Morfa Retail Park, Swansea, SA1 7BP
Lloyds Pharmacy, 5-6 Gorseinon Shopping Centre, Swansea, SA4 4DJ
Well Pharmacy, 63 Alexander Road, Swansea, SA4 4NU
Well Pharmacy, Mill Street, Gowerton, SA4 3ED