The new community pharmacy

Walked into a pharmacy with a sore throat. The young lady behind the counter asked me a series of questions – no runny nose, no cough – just a sore throat. Then she asked if I had an elevated temperature. Well – how would I know! It felt like it, but all I have at home is one of those forehead thermometers for the kids.

What surprised me is that I was invited into the consultation room. She had written some notes down on a very official looking piece of paper and then proceeded to take my temperature. Impressed – it was a pukker looking machine – just like the one they use in the hospital. And looking at the desk there was a blood pressure machine and an otoscope.

The pharmacist will be with you in a moment. And he was. Asked me a few more questions about my swallowing and breathing, felt my neck and looked in my throat. He actually had one of those wooden tongue depressors and a proper torch.

“Usually”, he said, “most sore throats are viral, but this may actually be bacterial and need an antibiotic”.

Here we go – I came in here because it is the devil’s own job to get an appointment at the GPs – are you telling me that I have to go there now.

“No not at all, we offer a throat swab test for the bacteria that causes sore throat, it a special service and there is a charge attached, because it is not offered on the NHS”. Waiting for the punchline I was surprised that it was less than a ten pound note and he would do the test straight away and have the results in 10 minutes.

So I had the test, passed over the ten pounds and got my change, looked around and he came out with the result. It was negative so I happily took some advice and bought something that he said would help over the two weeks that it normally took to clear up.

“What would have happened if the test was positive” seemed like a reasonable question. So I could have got some antibiotics from the pharmacy if the swab was positive, but that would have been a charge, or he would have informed the GP practice and I could collect a prescription from there.

It really was a revelation – perhaps I will try the pharmacy next time if the service is always this good.



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