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GPs should take 'personal responsibility' for educating public on antibiotic overuse

GPs should ‘resist’ patient pressure to prescribe antibiotics, and should ‘take personal responsibility’ for educating the public about the consequences of their misuse, the RCGP has said.

Joint guidance issued today by four Royal Colleges and the Faculty of Public Health also recommends health professionals improve the monitoring of prescription rates.

It also calls on patients to give infections time to clear up and to keep themselves healthy.

This comes after warnings from the UK’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies and the prime minister that the current attitude to prescribing could cast the world back to a ‘dark age of medicine’.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We have developed a worrying reliance on [antibiotics] and many patients now see them as a cure-all, even for minor symptoms which will get better on their own or can be treated effectively with other forms of medication.’

‘GPs face enormous pressure to prescribe them even though we know that infections adapt to the antibiotics used to kill them and, over time, they can make treatment ineffective.’

Dr Baker added: ‘It is imperative that doctors, nurses and pharmacists start talking about the alternatives available to patients who ask for antibiotics to treat minor illnesses.’

Readers' comments (12)

  • Considering the RCGP has encouraged via the CSA a model of 'personal responsibility' that means negotiating delayed antibiotics and we now have a feedback culture ( via NHS choices) that allows through any negative comments - I can't help feeling this is a bit of a lost cause.

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  • no. get rid of personal feedback and we can talk about this. refusal to give abx results in a complaint etc. no defence given to the dr

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  • Trying to reduce GPs defensively prescribing antibiotics or reducing prescribing to reduce workload is just unrealistic in the current environment.

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  • The Royal colleges and Faculty of Public Health are having a laugh at our expense. Taking personal responsibility is no longer an option in the new era where the GMC will peg you out to dry if you refuse to prescribe antibiotics and the patient later succumbs to an infection. In a world where GPs spend over £7000/y on medico-legal insurance, exposing yourself to increased risk is not financially viable.

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  • "and so those are the reasons why antibiotics won't help- is there anything you would like me to go over again, or something to read later?"
    "no, I'm just not happy about this or your attitude. I am going to register a formal complaint about your patronising and cynical manner, and comment onlne about how you have behaved. My father died because a GP refused him antibiotics. I intend to make you pay for that and all the other people who have suffered and died because you people can't be bothered"

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  • It is nice to see the word responsibility being used. I think this country has gone too far with the "it's my right culture". It's my right to have lots of material things (I cannot afford), it's my right to have free health care (when I cannot do the simple things like eat well, exercise and stop smoking), it's my right to tell the Doctor what s/he should do (despite their training) and it's my right to complaint WHEN I DON'T GET WANT I WANT!!!!!. Yes good to here the word responsibility being used (despite being directed at the WRONG group)

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  • Once the government stops making the assessment of good practice the same as a popularity contest - see Friends and Family test and NHS Choices- then we can certainly help. MOST people accept the explanation and act responsibily but the minority that don't, kick up a fuss, complain, turn up at A+E or walk-in centres thus costing the country more and they will get the opinion they want eventually. We are pandering to the minority that use the health service poorly and this includes the drive to open 24/7. Those that shout loudest annd longest!

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    DOH - national add campaign that says - Cough and colds and sore throats do not need antibiotics.

    Self care advice, and no need to see a GP for simple self limiting viral illnesses. If in doubt call 111 for clarification, and set them up to do a sensible triage. You need a centrally co-ordinated approach.

    Otherwise getting Primary care to take responsibility is not going to work, as patients will either complain, go to walk-in, OOH or A&E where the risk prevention culture usually ends up in antibiotics being given anyway.

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  • Isn't "educating the public" the role of Public Health?

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  • I can hardly believe RCGP chair is saying this. I fully agree with comments given GP Registrars. Most complaints are because of not prescribing antibiotic and Benzo.The culture of I want! A popular GP is the one who issues sick note, Benzo and antibiotics.

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