Ow ow ow my throat. Will a GP do anything? (UK)
October 18, 2014 2:06 AM   Subscribe

In London for a couple weeks. New & painful sore throat. Does anyone routinely test for bacterial strep here?

Because I'm not going to go to the trouble of finding a doctor unless they're going to swab, test for bacterial infection, and write an antibiotic prescription if and only if that's what I've got. I almost never get fevers (don't have one now), but my throat and lymph nodes are on fire. I'm in London and have a clear understanding of the difference between (common) viral throat infections amd bacterial strep amd the need to control antibiotic use, but my plans for the next week are very much the opposite of the "wait it out and avoid social contact" recommendations, and largely not changeable.
posted by deludingmyself to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
It's unlikely, honestly, unless your sore throat is really severe/of long duration or you have other health issues it's complicating. Possibly if you have a history of streptococcus throat infections and know that's what this is (although in that case they might just give you antibiotics).
posted by Catseye at 2:23 AM on October 18, 2014

Response by poster: Yeah, none of those, just plans for a lot of kissing. Balls.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:33 AM on October 18, 2014

Nope. A doctor is going to take a quick look and then prescribe antibiotics. The UK system prioritises cost-effectiveness, and so swabbing and testing an ordinary sore throat is largely out of the question. Of course, there are private clinics where you can just walk in and ask for whatever tests you like, but they'll charge you handsomely for it.

I don't ever go to my GP with a sore throat unless it's really persistent.
The best thing I've found is an over-the-counter spray called Difflam. It takes care of the symptoms very quickly.
posted by pipeski at 3:14 AM on October 18, 2014

Am I right in thinking you are an American visiting the UK short-term? In that case, a GP will need to agree to see you as an emergency patient. That will mean grabbing a few minutes between appointments with registered patients, and I doubt any doctor will spend a second longer on your treatment than they have to.

If the doctor determines that your sore throat isn't such an emergency after all, you may (or at least should) be charged for the appointment and medication.

Do you have insurance that covers medical treatment abroad? Maybe someone at the insurance company could advise you on how to get the tests you want.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 5:03 AM on October 18, 2014

Response by poster: PP, that's exactly right and what I suspected. In the US some rapid clinics (located in pharmacies in major cities) let you walk in and get swabbed for this kind of test and pay out of pocket to see a nurse practicioner, and then fill a prescription on the spot if you come up positive, but I'm aware that setup is less common here.

I'm off to get some Difflam, thanks everyone for the help.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:41 AM on October 18, 2014

Here's a list of places that do private Strep B tests in the UK, including a few in London. They may well do regular Strep tests. You won't get much luck off an NHS funded GP surgery, but you won't have to pay for a consultation if they do give you an appointment: only secondary health care (non-A&E hospital delivered care, broadly speaking) is chargeable in England.
posted by ambrosen at 6:45 AM on October 18, 2014

In the UK there are over the counter antibiotic lozenges called Tyrozets. I have always found them effective.
posted by w0mbat at 8:53 AM on October 18, 2014

Also, gargle with a weak solution of TCP. You'll find this in Boots or Superdrug.
posted by essexjan at 9:42 AM on October 18, 2014

A lot will depend on the doctor you go to--not all NHS doctors will have access to a rapid strep test in-house, even if they agree to give you one. You should probably go to one of the NHS walk-in care centers.

Unless you've got a history of strep infection though, your chances of having a bacterial sore throat are small. More likely, it's viral.

Either way, please don't kiss people when you've got a sore throat.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:38 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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