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25.05.16

NHS hails ‘fantastic result’ as antibiotic prescription reduction exceeds targets

Antibiotic prescription has been reduced by 7.3% in one year against a 1% target, NHS Improvement has announced.

Following a combined effort by NHS Improvement, NHS England and Public Health England to set goals and share data on antibiotic prescribing, 34.34 million items were prescribed in 2015-16, compared to 37.03 million in 2014-15.

Unnecessary prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which should only be used to treat serious problems, reduced by 16%, from 3.94 million items prescribed to 3.30 million, against a 10% target.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS national director of patient safety, said: “This fantastic result achieved in just one year is testament to the huge efforts of GPs, pharmacists and local commissioners. Healthcare staff across the country should be congratulated for this, and the Patient Safety Team at NHS Improvement will continue to work with them and with our partners at Public Health England and NHS England to bring these figures down even further.

“Every year, too many people suffer and lose their lives due to antibiotic-resistant infections. At a time when the NHS has advanced in many areas of patient care, science and technology, we must work to prevent healthcare going backwards to time where antibiotics are no longer fighting infections. This is why efforts in the NHS to reduce the overprescribing of antibiotics are crucial, and these latest figures are a significant step forward in this fight.”

In his final antimicrobial resistance review, published last week, Lord O’Neill warned that antimicrobial resistance will cost 10 million lives a year by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to tackle it.

The Quality Premium Reward Scheme, which provides £150m funding incentives to providers who reduce antibiotic prescription, has now been extended, and a new national incentive scheme has also been introduced for hospitals.

NHS initiatives to encourage reductions in antibiotic prescription have included an online tool to allow GPs to compare their practices with others and proposals to refer doctors who persistently over-prescribe to the General Medical Council.

To view Antibiotic Guardian, a special website with information about measures to reduce antibiotic prescription, click here.

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