PATIENTS will be able to seek diagnosis and treatment of sore throat problems from their pharmacist, as part of a new scheme.

Four hundred community pharmacists in Wales will undergo training by the end of January to enable them to provide a Sore Throat Test-and-Treat Service that will save thousands of patients a trip to their GP surgery.

And from next April, a new plan to train a further 1,000 community pharmacists will be developed, with the aim that eventually, all 716 community pharmacies in Wales will be able to offer the service.

The scheme has been tested at more than 50 pharmacies and 3,655 consultations were recorded, with a what Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) calls a significant level of positive feedback from patients.

All health boards are looking to get involved in the expanded scheme, and training for pharmacists will be provided by HEIW.

Each year an average GP will see around 120 patients with acute pharyngitis.

The Sore Throat Test-and-Treat service is an additional service within the successful 'Choose Pharmacy' suite of patient services offered from community pharmacies.

Pharmacists will assess patients’ symptoms, examine the patients’ throats and take a simple swab test for those patients with symptoms which suggest they may have a bacterial infection.

The results of the point-of-care test are available in minutes, and the pharmacist and patient will then discuss the results of the test, agreeing the best treatment and management of symptoms.

It is helped that the initial expansion of the scheme will help ease pressure on busy GP services during the winter.

“The ambition of 'A Healthier Wales’ 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," said Professor Margaret Allan, Pharmacy Dean at HEIW.

"HEIW recognise that community pharmacists can make a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of their local communities.

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