The test is hoped to provide patients with a more convenient means of access to treatment for respiratory issues.

Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Community Pharmacy Liverpool began a new clinical service which will allow over 100 pharmacies to offer a ten minute, point-of-care test to differentiate bacterial infections from viral respiratory infections.

The test, called FebriDx, will be used for patients with an acute cough at pharmacies across Liverpool under a new minor ailments service known as Pharmacy First. This means that rapid diagnoses and appropriate antibiotic prescribing will be available without the need for a GP appointment first.

The FebriDx test has already been in use in some hospitals and GP surgeries across the UK for three years, but is now being used in the Merseyside region for the first time.

NHS Liverpool CCG is responsible for commissioning hospital and community health services for the citizens of Liverpool and has a budget of approximately £840m a year.

“It is often difficult for healthcare providers to determine if a respiratory infection is bacterial or viral without this type of rapid testing because the symptoms are nearly identical,” said Peter Johnstone, head of medicines optimisation for Liverpool CCG.

“FebriDx lends itself to the Pharmacy First initiative really well–the test uses a small finger stick blood sample to differentiate a bacterial from viral acute respiratory infection in just ten minutes and we’re starting to offer this in local pharmacies to help ensure people get the right treatment.”

“Our goal is to provide patients with more convenient access to testing and treatment for acute cough under a new Patient Group Direction (PGD),” explains Matt Harvey, chief officer of Community Pharmacy Liverpool. “With the high volumes of patients with coughs and respiratory problems during the winter season, we see a real opportunity to bring this test into local pharmacies to help us provide treatment for patients more quickly–without the need for a GP appointment or prescription first.”