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Boots UK selected to join NHS Accelerator programme for its sore throat test and treat service

12 November 2016
Feature Healthcare

NHS England’s Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh and Professor Robert Wachter announce eight health innovations at the NIA conference 

The Boots UK sore throat test and treat service has been selected as one of the eight health innovations by NHS England’s Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh along with US Digital Health expert Professor Robert Wachter to form part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator programme at an event in London to launch year two of the programme.

Last year, the programme selected 17 innovations and supported their roll out across over 380 NHS organisations, benefiting millions of NHS patients. 

Each of the innovations are evidence-based and cost-saving and focus on providing solutions to key challenges facing the NHS, including better prevention of ill health, improved management of long term conditions and early intervention into diseases.

Launched as a pilot in 2014, the Boots sore throat test and treat service can support the diagnosis of bacterial infection and provide treatment options, including the supply of antibiotics. The service, which includes an effective point–of–care diagnostic test alongside a comprehensive consultation, can help to conserve antibiotics for future generations and revolutionise the delivery of global healthcare. Pharmacy is the ideal place for patient counselling and point of care testing as their presence in local communities gives them access to a wide population who would otherwise have to travel to their GP. 

A thorough review of the Boots pilot service demonstrated that two thirds of patients who would have seen their GP did not need to do so.  If this was extrapolated to the 1.2 million consultations that GPs see annually for sore throats,then an additional 800,000 patients could be potentially seen within community pharmacy. Such a service should reduce antibiotic pressure and the emergence of resistance, and further the aims of antibiotic control programs. 

Malcolm Harrison, Senior Manager Project & Contract Development and lead for the Boots innovation comments:  “We’re delighted to be selected as one of the 8 innovations and to be appointed as a fellow of the NIA programme.  I hope that the appointment brings more opportunity to work collaboratively with industry partners and other pharmacies to hopefully provide large scale coverage to make sure that patients have a new access point of care to relieve burden on GPs, while also making sure that antibiotics are only given when needed.“

Boots UK already plays a major role in helping customers prevent and manage winter ailments. From providing winter flu vaccinations to sharing expert cold and flu advice; Boots is committed to developing new innovative services to give our customers safe and convenient access to the widest range of products and services and a more accessible and holistic point of care testing model.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator is led by NHS England, delivered in partnership with the country's 15 Academic Health Science Networks (hosted by UCLPartners) who facilitate and support health innovators with getting their innovation rolled out across the NHS.

The accelerator aims to meet the commitment set out the Five Year Forward View to create the conditions and cultural change necessary for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically through the NHS.

A published academic review of the Boots sore throat test and treat service can be read on the journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy:


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023