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DH and CQC discuss closer inspection of practices’ antibiotics prescribing

GP practices are set to face closer scrutiny of their antibiotics prescribing in future CQC inspections under plans being hatched by the Government.

The Department of Health confirmed to Pulse it was working with the CQC to find ‘more ways of improving antibiotic usage’ in future CQC inspections of GP practices.

But GP leaders said GPs were already scrutinised closely on prescribing of antibiotics in particular and as a result were ‘probably the best antibiotic prescribers in the world’.

The move came to light after the chief medical officer Dame Professor Sally Davies announced she was working with the CQC to ramp up checks on infection control and antimicrobial stewardship in the NHS.

Dame Sally said ‘we are working closely with the Care Quality Commission to explore how infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship aspects can be built into the key lines of enquiry used in their routine inspections’.

The CQC already uses two metrics to rate practices on antibiotic prescribing – based on how much they prescribe antibiotics overall, allowing for the age and gender balance of the individual practice, as well as the proportion of these are broad spectrum antibiotics.

However, the Department of Health confirmed to Pulse that it was working with the CQC to find further ways to monitor GPs’ antibiotic prescribing.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Tackling antibiotic resistance is key to protecting our precious medicines, and this work starts with good practice in hospitals and GP surgeries.

‘The CQC currently looks at all GP practices for their cleanliness and hygiene as well as the type of antibiotics being prescribed. We will continue to work with the CQC in the coming months to look at even more ways of improving antibiotic usage.’

It comes as a study revealed that GPs at practices that prescribe fewer antibiotics overall tend to receive worse patient satisfaction scores than those at higher prescribing practices in the GP Patient Survey.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said the DH and other health bodies have been reviewing and monitoring GPs’ prescribing of antibiotics ‘for decades’ and that the CQC already had access to a ‘significant amount of data relating to antibiotic prescribing’.

Dr Vautrey added that it was something GPs ‘take very seriously’ and that ‘as a result we probably have the best antibiotic prescribers in the world’.

The CQC declined to comment on how antibiotic prescribing might be scrutinised more closely in future inspections but a spokesperson said the organisation was ‘about to go out to consultation’ on a new strategy and that ‘we recognise that infection control and antibiotic prescribing are important issues and we already look at them within our safe and effective domains’.