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27.02.18

RCGP: Antibiotic resistance is not solely the responsibility of GPs

Antibiotic prescription figures must not be used as “an excuse to criticise GPs,” the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has warned today.

The remarks come following the publication of Public Health England’s (PHE’s) report, ‘Reducing inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics in English primary care: Evidence and outlook,’ in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The research found that at least 20% of antibiotic prescriptions in primary care in England were inappropriate, meaning that inappropriate antibiotic prescribing must be reduced by 10% by 2020 in order to meet the government’s target of halving inappropriate antibiotic use.

Inappropriate prescribing was reportedly found in every GP practice the study examined.

Over 700,000 people die globally each year due to antimicrobial resistant infections, and this could rise to 10 million by 2050.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, called the figures “extremely disappointing,” but added: “They must not be used as an excuse for criticising GPs who are working their hardest to reduce antibiotic prescribing, whilst grappling with countless other workload pressures and a shortage of GPs.”

Although she stressed that GPs prescribe antibiotics where they believe them to be the most appropriate treatment for an individual, they still face “considerable pressure” from some patients who do not understand that they are not a “catch all” for every illness.

“Antimicrobial resistance is now a major global health threat and responsibility for tackling this does not lie solely at the door of GPs -  the whole of society must play its part,” she added.

The chair concluded: “The college has supported public health campaigns to raise awareness of the impact of antimicrobial resistance and we have worked with Public Health England to develop the TARGET antibiotics toolkit, to support GPs and other healthcare professionals in the appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.”

Top image: zneb076

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