DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics12091383 ISSN:

Responding to Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms in England’s Community Pharmacies

Sejal Parekh, Kieran Hand, Lingqian Xu, Victoria Roberts, Fionna Pursey, Diane Ashiru-Oredope, Donna M. Lecky
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) are self-limiting and frequently present in primary care; it is common for patients to seek symptom relief. The TARGET Treating Your Infection (TYI) leaflet was used to respond to UTI symptoms for women under 65 years presenting in community pharmacies. The widespread use of these leaflets was incentivised as part of NHS England’s Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) 2022–23, between October 2022 and March 2023. The TARGET TYI leaflets are aimed to support appropriate antibiotic use and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) as well as reducing the opportunity for resistance to develop. A total of 8363 community pharmacies completed the AMS criteria within the PQS and collectively submitted data for 104,142 patients presenting with UTI symptoms. The majority, 77% (75,071), of (non-pregnant) women presented with none or only one of the three strongly predictive symptoms of dysuria, new nocturia, cloudy urine, and/or vaginal discharge and, therefore, were less likely to have a UTI, as outlined in the English UTI diagnostic guidance. Conversely, 23% (22,381) of women presented with two or more symptoms of dysuria, new nocturia, cloudy urine, and with no vaginal discharge and, therefore, they were more likely to have a UTI. The TARGET TYI UTI leaflets support community pharmacy teams to differentiate between symptoms more likely to be associated with UTIs and those that could be managed with self-care. The findings suggest that most women presenting to community pharmacies with urinary symptoms were likely to have self-limiting symptoms, and could be suitably managed with self-care, pain relief, and appropriate safety netting. Approximately one-third of patients were managed by community pharmacy team members without the need for referral to a pharmacist and one in five patients presented with escalation symptoms and were signposted to other healthcare settings. A total of 94% (97,452) of women received self-care advice of which 36% (37,565) were also provided with additional patient information leaflets.

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