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GPs praised for ‘dramatic’ fall in antibiotic prescribing

GPs have cut down the amount of antibiotics they use ‘dramatically’ over the past year, according to a new report.

NHS Improvement found prescriptions for all types of antibiotic were down by more than 2.6 million on the previous year, to about 34 million in 2015/16.

This meant GPs exceeded their target to cut all antibiotic use considerably, at a 7% overall reduction compared with the 1% target set by public health chiefs.

GPs also massively cut down the amount of broad-spectrum antibiotics they prescribed, with a 16% reduction compared with a 10% target.

It comes after GPs were praised for hitting key ‘Quality Premium’ targets on antibiotic prescribing set for CCGs, ahead of schedule.

The report, Reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics, says: 'The national Patient Safety Team, newly hosted in NHS Improvement, has helped GPs in the NHS to dramatically reduce how often patients are being prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, cutting the number of prescriptions down by over 2.6 million in one year alone as part of the national fight against antibiotic resistance.’

Dr Mike Durkin, from NHS Improvement, said: ‘This [is a] fantastic result achieved in just one year.’

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, said the ‘significant drop’ in prescribing reflected the hard work GPs were doing to improve appropriate prescribing, ‘despite the pressure GPs often face from patients to prescribe antibiotics’.

Dr Baker added that more needed to be done – including work to cut antibiotic use in other settings, such as agriculture, and to come up with new drugs.

But she said: ‘This won’t happen overnight and in the meantime, we need to continue to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness.'



Readers' comments (20)

  • ...and the 2.6 million will be taken and handed over to the DoH who will hold onto it to maintain their strangle-hold on General Practice to fund the New Privitised Health Service run by Simon Steven's cronies!

    Thank you Maureen Baker

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  • ...btw the reduction in antibiotic prescribing is directly related to the mass resignations in Primary Care,over the last year Dr. Durkin!

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  • In my time as a GP, I think this is the first time we have been praised for something. Clearly they're trying to soften us up for a DoH press release planned later this week

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  • Time to address dental,hospital and agri use ,muppets!

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Even amid the praise there is spin. I heard on Radio 4 that this was due to "financial incentives". No. GPs are not directly incentivised to reduce antibiotic prescribing. We have the professionalism to try our very best to prescribe appropriately and correctly.
    We have put in extra effort.
    Actually time to take a bow, ladies and gentlemen.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Problem is the interpretation of this result by the bureaucrats and executives:
    (1) GPs were previously cr*p prescribing too many antibiotics .
    (2) Hence , more , we want more !
    (3) This only has happened because CCGs and greedy GPs were given extra money to do so
    What has the government done on all the other sectors where antibiotics is still widely abused?

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  • It is in fact nothing to do with changing behavior or incentives . It has been a very mild winter with no major flu epidemic . If the season is more cruel next year or flu strikes again there may be something of a rebound. For which we will undoubtedly get the blame.

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  • In 1659 the central England temperature series was started . The past winter was the warmest since records began. Is it possible that this might have had some impact on morbidity?

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  • Er so global warming is good?

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  • Antibiotic surge revealed by seasonal maps -BBC

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