Sore throat? Soon you could be visiting your pharmacist instead of your GP

A new strategy to deal with sore throats could mean that we'll all be visiting our pharmacists this winter - without the routine trip to the doctor in-between.

A new on-the-spot test will check if patients need antibiotics, in a bid to cut down on unnecessary prescriptions.

Officials say the move could save the NHS up to £34 million a year, and cut around 800,000 GP consultations if the scheme is taken up nationwide.

A pharmacy
The new on-the-spot tests could see the NHS save millions of pounds every year (Julien Behal PA)

Supporters of the scheme also say that the Sore Throat Test and Treat initiative will be an important step towards tackling a crisis in antibiotic resistance, from people being over-exposed to unnecessary antibiotic treatment when suffering with colds.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the scheme will be rolled out across the country over the course of the coming year and is one of eight medical innovations that will be introduced.

Pills and medicines
Concerns over growing antibiotic resistance means GPs are restricting antibiotic treatment unless absolutely necessary (AvGusT174/Thinkstock)

Stevens said: "Necessity is the mother of invention, and health care worldwide is now fizzing with smart innovation.

"In the NHS, we're now taking practical action to develop and fast-track these new techniques into mainstream patient care."

Medics have warned that over-prescribing antibiotics is leading to a growing resistance to them - and it is estimated this could cause the deaths of 10 million people by 2050.

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