Boots is trialling a cystitis test and treat service in 37 of its stores across London, Sheffield and Cardiff.
The service allows women aged 16 to 64 to test if they have a urinary tract infection (UTI), one of the most common types of bacterial infection which affects millions of people each year, and to determine if they need antibiotics.
“With around 50% of women with UTI symptoms not actually having an infection, there is a risk antibiotics may not be necessary,” Boots said.
It is hoped the service will alleviate the pressure on GPs, with UTIs accounting for 1-3% of all GP visits in the UK.
As part of Boots’ rollout of the service, a pharmacist asks the patient a few questions about their symptoms and if their answers hint at an uncomplicated lower UTI, they can buy a Dip UTI Urine Test which costs £9.99.
The service includes a urine self-testing kit and an app which turns a smartphone camera into what Boots described as “a clinical grade analyser” to allow patients to test for an infection.
Patients scan the sampled dipstick and the analysis is displayed through the app on their phone within minutes. After that, the patient returns to the branch of Boots where they bought the kit to talk to a pharmacist about the result.
The pharmacy chain said the test is quick and can be carried out by patients “from the comfort of their own homes.”
“The test works alongside an app, which the customer should download for free by searching Dip UTI from the Apple App Store or Google Play,” Boots said.
If the test indicates a UTI, the pharmacist will provide prescription-only medication which, alongside the consultation, costs £14.99.
Boots UK’s director of pharmacy services Asif Aziz, said: “The NHS long-term plan highlights the growing need to use new diagnostics and the introduction of this service highlights the enhanced role that community pharmacies can play in supporting services offered by the NHS and GPs, as well as the excellent clinical skills our pharmacists can offer, to support patients’ health in locations and at times that are convenient to them.”