GPs warned over antibiotic prescribing as resistance grows

GPs should review their antibiotic prescribing each year to stem the rising tide of drug resistance sweeping across the UK, the RCGP has said.

Prescribing: GPs urged to cut use of antibiotics
Prescribing: GPs urged to cut use of antibiotics

The college is encouraging practices to conduct annual audits to ensure antibiotics are used only when they are essential, amid rising bacterial resistance in the UK.

The move comes after England’s CMO Dame Sally Davies warned that antibiotic resistance was one of the greatest threats to modern healthcare.

The RCGP has released a set of guides to coincide with Antibiotic Awareness Day, which took place on Sunday. These include patient resources such as posters and leaflets, as well as an audit report template for practices to assess how they deal with throat infections.

The guidance is part of the 'treat antibiotics responsibly, guidance and education tool' (TARGET) toolkit produced with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Antimicrobial Stewardship in Primary Care Group.

Dr Michael Moore, RCGP clinical champion for antimicrobial stewardship, said the tool would help practices see how they can reduce prescribing in cases where evidence for use is limited.

He added: ‘I don’t see antimicrobial stewardship as a one-off activity but as something to be worked on over time. We hope that practices will pick up on antibiotic awareness and integrate this into their service development programme over the coming years perhaps focusing on a different clinical condition each year .’

Dr Cliodna McNulty, head of primary care at the HPA, said: ‘Although there has been a fall in the prescribing of certain groups of antibiotics like cephalosporins and quinolones, overall antibiotic use has increased and antibiotic resistance continues to rise. So we should only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed so helping to reduce the risk of resistance emerging and extending the life span of the antibiotics we have.’

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