New over the counter test could save you a trip to the doctor

A new in-pharmacy test could save you a trip to the doctor if you're battling a sore throat.  

The free throat swab service is being rolled out at 300 chemists nationwide from today. The test can determine whether an infection is viral or if it is bacterial and needs further attention. 

It takes just a simple swab, and in less than 10 minutes, this test can tell patients what type of infection is causing their sore throat.   

Unichem pharmacist Marie Bennett said it's a straightforward test. 

"It will be able to tell us whether it's a viral sore throat and just needs symptomatic treatment and a bit of time, or whether it's bacterial and something more serious that needs further investigation," Bennett said. 

Green Cross Health is rolling out the free throat-screening service at 300 Unichem and Life Pharmacies across the country. 

Patients can take the test to find out whether they need to take their sore throat symptoms to the doctor.

Green Cross health professional services manager Lauren Kilkolly said most people have a sore throat at least once a  year.

"Seven out of 10 people are getting a sore throat once or twice a year and what we know is that 80 per cent of them are viral, which means that a trip to the doctor for antibiotics may be unneccessary," Kilkolly said. 

But if a bacterial infection is picked up in the testing, it could help those who weren't planning on seeing a doctor, get the help they need. 

"That means you know going to the doctor, making an appointment, spending the $50 is absolutely the right thing to do," she said.

Te Atatu resident Joanne Te Tai has heart valve replacements because of undetected rheumatic fever when she was younger, a disease that results from untreated strep throat. 

She says people who are unsure about a painful throat should get the testing done. 

"Everybody should have it done, everybody should get it checked." 

Bennett said the test could prove to be very beneficial, especially at this time of year. 

"The timing is perfect, we're starting to see a lot of those winter ills and chills coming through our door and to be able to give them more meaningful advice is just an amazing chance," she said.

The free sore throat consultations will be available at pharmacies for four weeks, but if the service proves successful, it could be rolled out longer.