Newry and Kilkeel pharmacies to take part in extended Pharmacy First sore throat service

​This winter, the Pharmacy First service will be extended to include a new pilot Sore Throat service in 42 community pharmacies across Northern Ireland from November 2023 to March 2024.
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​Pharmacists will offer a confidential consultation in a private area of the pharmacy where they will discuss their sore throat symptoms. Anyone age 5 or over can attend for advice and treatment for a sore throat, without having to wait for a GP appointment.

Sore throats are normally caused by viral infections. Symptoms last around a week and will normally go away by themselves.

The pharmacist may carry out a test, usually a throat swab similar to a covid test, to help diagnose the cause of the sore throat. Antibiotics aren’t normally needed for a sore throat as they will not usually relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery, but if a swab confirms a bacterial sore throat then the pharmacist may supply them.

Participating pharmacists may also offer free-of-charge treatment to help alleviate symptoms such as pain or fever.

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Department of Health said, “As with every year, we can expect to see a rise in sore throats for the winter season. The Pharmacy First Sore Throat pilot will allow people to receive some relief medications from these 42 pharmacies, as they wait for the conditions to run their normal course.

All community pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals and many are open after regular business hours and at weekends and bank holidays. No appointment is necessary to consult a pharmacist.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) added, “This expanding clinical role for community pharmacists is to be welcomed. Patients will have the opportunity to be seen, assessed, and treated close to home by a health professional. This will help to ensure that they do not face a delay in receiving care and the appropriate treatment.

It is estimated that the 42 pharmacies will deliver around 8,000 consultations this winter alone, helping to free up capacity and alleviate some of the pressures across the health service in the weeks and months ahead.

This pilot service is available at the following pharmacies:

McCartans Pharmacy, Unit 5 Fiveways, 99 Armagh Road, Newry.

Gordons Chemists, 26 Greencastle Street, Kilkeel.

More information about the Pharmacy First service can be found here: