GP antibiotic prescribing dropped to five-year low over last year

GP antibiotic prescriptions are at their lowest for five years, falling from around 0.65 to 0.64 antibiotics per head over the last year, according to data released on Thursday.

Research by charity Antibiotic Research UK and analytic company EXASOL on primary care prescribing data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed that less antibiotics were prescribed this year than last year.

Prescriptions have dropped 5.6% since the recorded high in 2012, when 3.8m antibiotic prescription were handed out to patients in England, as GPs tighten control on prescribing.

The HSCIC data comprises all prescriptions given by GPs and subsequently dispensed in England over the period from August 2010 to July 2015.

But the statistics showed that GP practices in the most deprived areas of the country are prescribing 20% more than less deprived areas, with the data suggesting that the rate of antibiotic prescriptions may be on the rise in these areas.

The data also highlights a seasonal variation in prescription levels, with 59% more prescriptions in December compared to August, which Antibiotic Research UK said may indicate that patients are asking for antibiotics to treat colds and flus – and are being given this treatment inappropriately.

Antibiotic prescriptions

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘These figures show the lowest antibiotics prescribing rates in five years – and a huge drop from when prescribing peaked in 2012. This shows that healthcare professionals across the UK are taking our warnings seriously and working to address them.

‘However, growing resistance to antibiotics continues to be a global threat and we can't be complacent. The trends shown today – particularly the link to deprivation – is concerning.

‘This could quite legitimately be because people in high areas of deprivation present more frequently with conditions, such as COPD, that need antibiotics – it is not necessarily indicative of inappropriate prescribing. There may also be different health expectations regarding the prescription of antibiotics in different areas.

‘GPs often face pressure from patients to prescribe antibiotics, particularly during winter months when more people are feeling ill, so the national significant drop in prescribing is positive and shows that the work the College and others are doing to support appropriate prescribing and urge healthcare professionals to say "no" is taking effect.’

Photo: iStock

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

Supplies of COVID-19 vaccine for first-dose vaccinations at GP-led vaccination sites...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than seven in 10 COVID-19 jabs administered UK-wide since the start of April...

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

An accountant has been handed a suspended jail term after stealing more than £60,000...

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

The GMC is writing to thousands of doctors due to revalidate from August to set out...

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

GP-led vaccination sites should offer under-30s due to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca...