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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Pharmacy First Sore Throat Service for Winter 2023

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Health professional checking a child’s throat

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.


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.

Pharmacy First Graphic


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 in the Ballymena area:

Boots, Tower Centre, Wellington Street, Ballymena.

Ballee Pharmacy, 20 Antrim Rd, Ballymena.

Bannside Pharmacy, 77 Main Street, Portglenone.

Other pharmacies in the Northern Trust area include:

Boots, Abbeycentre, Longwood Road, Newtownabbey, BT37 9UH

• Coagh Pharmacies, 11 Main Street, Coagh, BT80 0EN

• Pharmacy Plus, 40 Rashee Road, Ballyclare, Co Antrim, BT39 9HJ

• Magherafelt Healthcare, 38 Rainey Street, Magherafelt, Co Derry, BT45 5AQ

Wilkinson Chemists, 62 Main Street, Garvagh, BT51 5AE

• Campbells Pharmacy, 8 Dunluce Street, Portrush, BT56 8DN

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


Pharmacy First Sore Throat is available in participating pharmacies across Northern Ireland with 42 pharmacies taking part in the initial pilot.

No appointment is necessary, patients can simply request a consultation with a participating pharmacist.

Over the 2022/23 period, 152,834 patients in Northern Ireland availed of the Pharmacy First for Everyday Health Conditions, receiving 180,026 from their community pharmacists. 


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