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Independents' Day

RCGP calls for antibiotic prescribing targets to stave off 'deadly' resistance

The RCGP has said national targets are needed to reduce antibiotic prescribing or else ‘simple infection and routine surgery’ could become ‘deadly’, in a joint call with other medical colleges.

In a summit being held in London today, the RCGP, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society say antibiotic prescribing has to be reduced down to 2010 levels in both community and hospital settings to ‘halt the relentless rise in antibiotic resistance’, following a 6% increase in prescribing rates between 2010 and 2013.

Announcing the call, healthcare leaders said ‘binding’ national targets had to be implemented ‘without delay’ or routine operations could soon become deadly.

The statement said: ‘GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and pharmacists are calling for binding national “rollback” targets on antibiotic prescribing to halt the relentless rise in antibiotic resistance.

‘The impact of antibiotic resistance has been compared to climate change in terms of its impact on human health. Healthcare without effective antibiotics is unthinkable to those who have enjoyed the benefits of modern medicine. The stark reality of a world where simple infection and routine surgery become deadly is ahead unless we take action now.

‘Leading experts from across the professional spectrum are calling for national measures to be implemented across the NHS without delay.’

RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said doctors have ‘developed a worrying reliance’ on antibiotics and some patients now ‘see them as a cure-all’.

To halt the trend he said it was ‘absolutely imperative’ that doctors, nurses and pharmacists explain to patients when antibiotics are not required.

He said: ‘Health professionals can face enormous pressure to prescribe them but all of our patients and the public need to be aware of the risks associated with inappropriate use of antibiotics and how to use them appropriately.

‘It is absolutely imperative that all of us - doctors, nurses and pharmacists - work in partnership with our patients to talk about when antibiotics are necessary and when they are not required. We should also be pointing out the alternatives available to those of our patients who ask for antibiotics to treat viral illnesses.

‘We need to do everything we can to prevent resistance to antibiotics so that we can all benefit when we really need them.’

The news comes as Pulse revealed last month that public health officials are in talks with NHS England about the possibility of introducing targets to cut antibiotic prescribing into the GP contract and publishing individual GP antibiotic prescribing rates,

A recent Public Health England report pointed towards a 40% increase in prescribing of antibiotics for coughs and colds from 1999 to 2011 - although GP prescribing fell last year - whilesurveys reveal that nine out of 10 GPs feel under pressure to prescribe the drugs.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Complete rubbish

    I'm always going to give ab's where appropriate

    Avoiding patient complaints and being sued for failure to treat is more important to me than some tenuous scaremongering public health issue

    Anyway, anything that the impotent RCGP recommends means nothing whatsoever to me - in fact I'm more inclined to do the exact opposite

    (ex RCGP member since 1994 and proud)

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  • Why not pay us £55 each time we dont prescribe them. That should pain the additional MDU fees

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  • The problem is the colleges are not prepared to say how many people they are willing to allow die from sepsis.

    For doctors at the coalface, missed sepsis is not an uncommon reason to end up in court or answering to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman,-says-ombudsman-in-report-which-reveals-failings-in-the-urgent-treatment-of-sepsis.

    If you are really unlucky, you could end up in prison like the infamous case of Mr Sellu.

    Until the law is changed to provide medics with more protection, antibiotic prescribing can only go one way...

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  • Why is there never much mention of the needs to educate the public and reduce expectations ?

    How difficult would it be to introduce a module in GCSE about self-care so peolpe growing up know when its appropriate to seek help etc, it really isnt rocket science as they say and could pay off long term

    Our lack of viable alternatives doesnt bode well either, bring back obecalp

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  • This country is not a problem where antibiotics are prescribed . OTC medication is resulting in far more increases in resistance . That and the industrial use of antibiotics in agriculture where animals are crammed together and need antibiotics in their feed to prevent infection. Bacteriophages seem to be the way to go but much of the literature is inaccessible because most of it's in Russian !

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  • Make the longitude prize 100m and you will get results . I might even learn Russian for that much .

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Yup- in most of the world you can get them OTC.

    I actually think this is a hospital vs community thing. I am sure resistance is a major issue in hospitals but in the community most chest infections respond to an ADEQUATE dose of Amoxicillin, and UTIs to Trimethoprim or Nitrofurantoin, just as they did when I started as a GP in 1985. Don't lose any sleep over it, dear colleagues.

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  • It's only going to work if someone is going to protect the GP from GMC/ court cases when it goes wrong.

    Until you can offer that keep yourselves quiet.

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  • Has anyone considered Dentists. My partner got given two different antibiotics from his dentist last week 'just in case'. They are going to put these limits on GP's then they should put them acroos the field.

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  • I wish someone could come up with an antibiotic that could resolve the pus from mr hunt

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