IT HOPED a new pilot scheme will save sore throat sufferers a trip to their GP.

The new scheme, running across North Wales, will help community pharmacists direct people to the right treatment for a sore throat using a 10-minute test.

Users of the pilot service will have a consultation with a pharmacist, who will use a set of structured questions, and possibly a swab test, to determine whether they have a viral or bacterial sore throat.

About 35 North Wales pharmacies - including Asda in Llandudno; Camella Healthcare in Old Colwyn; Morrisons Colwyn Bay and Boots in Llandudno - will offer a new service so people can get expert advice and treatment quickly without having to visit their GP.

If the test determines it to be a viral infection which antibiotics will not treat, the pharmacist can advise on steps to take to recover. The pharmacist can also provide antibiotics if the test reveals a bacterial infection that antibiotics can help with.

Adam Mackridge, deputy head of Pharmacy for Primary and Community Care, said: "This time of year sore throats are very common and are usually caused by minor illnesses such as colds and flu.

"Sore throats are very common and normally get better within seven to 10 days. Most sore throats can be treated at home with medicines you have in your medicines cupboard, and won’t need advice from a healthcare professional.

"However, it’s a good idea to visit your pharmacist for advice if your symptoms are severe, your symptoms haven't started to improve after a week or you are unsure about your symptoms and how best to treat them”

The scheme, running from Monday, January 28, will be trialled in North Wales and in the Cwm Taf Health Board area. It will be assessed for its success and potentially rolled out across Wales.

The service is part of the Common Ailments Scheme, which encourages patients to visit their community pharmacist instead of their GP if they feel they need NHS advice to manage common ailments, such as sore throat, heartburn, conjunctivitis, thrush and threadworm.