Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

BMA holds urgent talks with NICE over antibiotics guideline

The GPC has held urgent talks with NICE, after a top official at the institute said that GPs should be reported to the GMC if they persistently prescribe antibiotics.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the comments had ‘distracted’ from the launch of new guidance on antimicrobial stewardship that recommended GPs have their individual antibiotic prescribing monitored and reviewed at least once a year.

The guideline recommends the NHS should ‘encourage a culture’ where colleagues question one another on their antibiotic prescribing if they are ‘not in line with… guidelines and no reason is documented’.

But at a press conference to launch the guideline yesterday, Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, went much further, urging that the minority of ‘persistent offenders’ should face referral to the GMC and possible sanctions.

His words have been repeated today on the front pages of national newspapers and sparked fury among GPs.

The RCGP warned it could be ‘counter-productive’ to threaten hard-pressed GPs with sanctions for inappropriate prescribing.

And the BMA has said it has held urgent talks with NICE in order to clarify Professor Baker’s comments.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The BMA has met urgently with NICE today and expressed our concern at reports that GPs should face sanctions including GMC referral for “over prescribing” antibiotics.

‘This claim unfortunately has distracted from the launch of new guidance which we believe is helpful, especially as the BMA has been pushing for GPs to have better individual prescribing ‎data for some time.

‘We are pleased that following our meeting, NICE has clarified that inappropriate prescribing is not widespread amongst GPs and have made it clear that they wish to support all GPs, and not admonish them in public.’

A NICE spokesperson also sought to clarify their position, saying that they want to support GPs. He said: ‘Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics is not in the interests of patients and contributes to antimicrobial resistance. Our new guideline is designed to help doctors make the right choices with their patients,’ said the spokesperson.

‘The great majority of GPs take care in prescribing antibiotics and for them we hope our guideline will be a useful reinforcement of their existing practice. Our recommendations are aimed at those who need to change and improve their practice.

‘We want to support, not admonish them and we are clear that our advice on good clinical practice and the professional standards responsibilities of the General Medical Council are distinct and separate.’

Unsure of the best methods for reducing antibiotic prescribing? Pulse Learning offers tips (£) on how you can implement evidence-based strategies in practice.

Readers' comments (43)

  • John Glasspool

    What I sent to NICE today:-

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Well, I guess it is that time of year again when you start to castigate GPs for antibiotic use, despite the fact that it can be clinically impossible to tell the difference between viral an bacterial illness much of the time.

    Are you aware that in most of the world, antibiotics are still added to animal feeds, by the tonne, for "prophylaxis and growth promotion"? What have GPs to do with this?

    Even in the EU, Spain for example, one can buy antibiotics OTC without any need for explanation at all. I didn't believe this, so tried it six months ago in A Corunna. I bought a packet of Ciprofloxacin without being even asked why I needed it.

    In much of the world one can buy almost anything, short of Diamorphine, in a pharmacy.

    Veterinary use of antibiotics seems to have a very low threshold here in the UK.

    Yet, despite this, you have to bring out this pile of manure to steam in the sun again and again: that somehow GPs are responsible for all antimicrobial resistance.

    Yes, I am aware that there is large variance in antibiotic prescribing amongst GPs, but it pales into nothing when one considers the above.

    Why don't you look to these other areas before slagging off hard-pressed clinicians?


    John Glasspool​ BM FRCP FRCGP (Retired and very glad)​

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Good on you John

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hear hear!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Absolutely ridiculous!! What a mess a GP is in the UK!
    Developed country like UK behaving childish.Goodness grief.I am short of words

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 3.5 years ago when I was a stupid naïve young gp partner (31 years old), and thought the world was a wonderful place and I as a GP was a pillar of society, I did several antibiotic prescribing audits for our local CCG geared at looking at whether our antibiotic prescribing was appropriate! I looked at macrolide prescribing and I think quinolone. I used to be a partner in a rather large practice (approx. 14k patients) in the middle of England somewhere.

    the audit was a bloody headache and involved me going back 1 year and looking at every doctors prescribing and I had to judge from the notes whether it was appropriate based on clinical history exam and possible swab results etc etc. We found that over 90% of prescriptions were appropriately given. even when most of the viral infections were suspected with good safety netting patients did return and were then perhaps given a script;

    This was of course done so we could cut down on unnecessary prescribing. I remember I had to present this drivel at a locality meeting and seeing the look of disgust at other doctors who too had to present along with me, most of whom had similar results;

    we know how and when to give antibiotics; we can prove it
    idiots who sit on these quangos need to leave us alone and let us do our job;

    anyway thankfully I saw the light (or the shite as it were) and decided to leave abroad where im free to practice my clinical acumen without unnecessary scrutiny

    THANKS YOU NICE AND ALL THE OTHER TOSSPOTS FOR PUSHING ME AWAY!!! BY TRYING TO SHACKLE ME YOU DID THE OPPOSITE AND SET ME FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    dr baker needs to take a long look at himself

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • JOHN GLASSPOOL YOU ARE A HERO

    I LOVE READING YOUR POSTS AND MOST OF THEM MAKE MY SIDES ACHE WITH LAUGHTER.

    THANKS YOU DR GLASSPOOL AND KEEP UP THE FINE WORK!!!

    (EX UK GP PARTNER WHO LIKE YOU WAS PISSED OFF, BUT TOO YOUNG TO RETIRE SO EMIGRATED)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    The data speaks of itself . The biggest rise in antibiotics prescribing is never in GP territory. An arrogant and egoistic professorial comment can only be viewed as a retaliation ,as somebody mentioned today , to how we responded to various NICE latest recommendations . If that is the case , it is totally unprofessional and manipulative from an establishment with authority to influence.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    In our society , those with the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is.
    1984 , George Orwell

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    Salute to you, John, my honourable gentleman.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Urgent talks my eye. Today, the Camel's back was broken. Mass undated resignation. Now or never. We are drinking in the last chance saloon.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say

IMPORTANT: On Wednesday 7 December 2016, we implemented a new log in system, and if you have not updated your details you may experience difficulties logging in. Update your details here. Only GMC-registered doctors are able to comment on this site.