Essex PCT pays practices to reduce antibiotic scrips

Practices are to be incentivised for cutting the number of prescriptions for antibiotics, under a pilot scheme launched in Essex.

North-East Essex PCT set up the scheme in an attempt to tackle rising levels of antibiotic resistant infections such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

Under the scheme, practices will receive £1 for every patient on their practice list, if they reduce their use of antibiotics by 20 per cent by the end of the financial year.

Dr Mike Gogarty, director of public health at North-East Essex PCT said: 'We have areas across north-east Essex that have levels of antibiotic prescribing that are 20 per cent above the national average for England.

'All the GPs in the area will be given advice on how to limit prescribing and should follow NICE guidance on antibiotics.

'Last year a similar scheme halved prescribing levels of cefalosporins and quinolones. We are optimistic that this scheme will be a success.'

It will be a challenge for GPs but they will be incentivised for this, said Dr Gogarty. There is a budget of £140,000 available for the scheme via practice-based commissioning, he added.

Dr Bill Beeby, chairman of the GPC prescribing committee, welcomed the 'carrot and stick approach'.

'Reducing prescribing by 20 per cent is a significant target that will require a lot of time and effort from GPs. Providing incentives would be a valuable use of PCT money. If the scheme has the backing of all the local practices, then it is a good idea.'

But the local priorities mean it may not be suitable for a national roll-out across England, added Dr Beeby.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

NICE antibiotics prescribing guidance 2008

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