A new service to determine if a patient requires antibiotics for sore throat symptoms is available at 18 pharmacies across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The Sore Throat Test and Treat scheme allows patients to call into their local pharmacy and be tested by a trained pharmacist using a quick and pain free test.
Following a consultation and assessment by the pharmacist, medication may be supplied for those patients where an antibiotic is required.
In many cases, a sore throat is the result of a viral rather than bacterial infection which means antibiotics will not work, and self-care and rest are the best course of action.
A pilot carried out last year in Cwm Taf and Betsi Calwalader Health Boards has shown:
• Almost 94% of patients seen would have sought an appointment with a GP had the service not been available.
• Of a total of 601 consultations for sore throats, 475 patients did not receive a supply of antibiotics.
• 98% patient satisfaction with the service.
Pharmacist Ed John of Clunderwen Pharmacy whose pharmacy is taking part in the scheme said: "We are excited to be able to offer his free and accessible service, which saves patients having to see their GP for a sore throat.
"Patients will be able to utilise the consultation facilities to receive advice and treatment in private without the need for an appointment. During the consultation, the patient can be tested to determine whether antibiotics are needed.
"Antibiotics will be provided if indicated by the test, but if not required, the pharmacist can offer advice on self-care and pain relief medication at no charge as part of the NHS Common Ailments Service."
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-term Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board added: "We are very pleased to work with our colleagues in Community Pharmacy and recognise the range of enhanced services they can offer, often as a first point of contact, which has extended the role they play within Primary Care.
"It is important that we continue to inform members of the public about the Services which can be accessed at their local Community Pharmacy.
"Our Community Pharmacies do a lot more these days than simply dispense medication and in some cases they can save a trip to a GP or an Accident and Emergency Department and as you don’t have to make an appointment they offer a quick and flexible way to access healthcare."
The pharmacies who will offer this service are: