Acute Sore Throat

The pharmacy first service in England includes the treatment of acute sore throat, subject to inclusion criteria of the relevant PGD. Not all people accessing the service will be suitable for antibiotic treatment, so should be offered advice about self – care measures. It is therefore important that all trained members of staff (medicines counter assistants, dispensing assistants and pharmacy technicians) are able to advise appropriately. There is a short training guide available in the training section of this hub. These staff members will also benefit from understanding about the Pharmacy first service pathway for acute sore throat, they may use the short guides, in the training section of this hub to support with this.

  • It has been estimated that around 550 consultations in GP practices (with a patient size of 7000) are for a sore throat each year[1]
  • Less than 1/3 of all cases of acute sore throat are due to bacterial infections (Strep A)[1]
  • This means that a significant number of sore throat complaints can be treated with OTC medicines and advice.

Reference: [1] NICE CKS Acute sore throat prevalence

Pharmacists should be fully trained on delivery of the service. As well as the Service specification, clinical pathways and individual PGDs, they will benefit from using the resource section of this hub to underpin their knowledge further.

Private Service Provision (PGD Purchase)
Fever Pain Fact Sheet
Pharmacy First Service Training Guide
Purchasing Service Equipment

Private Services

Some pharmacies may choose to offer private sore throat test and treat services. These involve taking a throat swab of the persons throat and using a rapid antigen test to determine whether the cause is a bacterial infection. Antibiotics can then be supplied, subject to eligibility to the PGD being used. To purchase a PGD, visit our PGD purchase page, where you can access PGDs from ECG or Pharmadoctor.


You can find a number of resources on this page to support the pharmacy team to become confident and competent in advising patients about sore throat symptoms. They may wish to access each module or can choose a module relevant to their own learning needs.

What is a sore throat
How to treat a sore throat
Pharmacy First – Acute sore throat

There is also access to a Strefen leave piece. You can access that here. Which highlights the key product information as week as summarising FeverPain and Centor criteria, that can be used to determine whether a sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection. You can access that here: Strefen leave piece

Once training modules have been worked through, team members can test their knowledge using the scenarios below. There are three that are via a video, going through patients with different OTC sore throat presentations/needs. There are further scenarios to work through in this training module:

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