Northern GPs blamed for high antibiotic prescribing
By Lilian Anekwe
A new study has painted a portrait of the typical high prescriber of antibiotics – an older male GP from the north of England.
The research scrutinised prescribing rates of 97% of all 8,000 practices in England between April 2004 and April 2005, and identified a number of factors that seemed to be linked to high antibiotic use.
Being located in the north of England came above a series of other factors, including short appointment times, as an apparent signifier of a high prescriber.
Male GPs more generally, non UK-qualified GPs over 45 and those working at training practices were also higher than average prescribers, found the study, published in the October issue of the British Journal of General Practice.
Study leader Dr Kay Yee Wang, honorary research fellow at King's College London, said she didn't know why northern GPs would have higher prescribing rates, but speculated: ‘Higher antibiotic prescribing in the north may be partly driven by higher consultation rates for respiratory tract infections – possibly as a result of lower temperatures, higher levels of environmental pollutions and higher smoking prevalence.'
The study comes as a pilot scheme launched in 68 practices across Wales will use the practices' own prescribing and resistance data to flag up areas of over-prescribing in an attempt to drive down the annual number of antibiotics dispensed.
Professor Chris Butler, professor of primary care medicine at the University of Cardiff, said: ‘This approach has the potential to improve communication between clinicians and patients, as well as reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.'GPs in the north were found to have particularly high prescribing rates GPs in the north were found to have particularly high prescribing rates