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GPs face tougher targets to cut antibiotics under new incentive scheme



GPs may come under further pressure from commissioners to cut their antibiotic use through an update to the a CCG incentives scheme drawn up by NHS chiefs.

The antibiotics targets – first introduced into the Quality Premium scheme last year – will see GPs tasked with making even further reductions on two key measures from April, namely the total amount of antibiotics they prescribe and the proportion of broad spectrum antibiotics they use.

The new Quality Premium for 2016/17, unveiled today by NHS England, will be worth around £150,000 to CCGs who meet both antibiotics measures.

It will see CCGs incentivised to cut their GP practices’ total antibiotic use by 4% on their 2013/14 performance, or down to the mean level across all CCGs for that year.

And they will be offered rewards to reduce their rate of broad spectrum antibiotics prescribing down to 10% of total antibiotics, or to cut their 2014/15 rate by 20%.

It comes as NHS England chiefs praised GPs for their work in hitting the targets set last year under the scheme, with three-quarters of CCGs already reaching their goals by December last year.

The previous targets were for a 1% or greater cut in total antibiotic use compared with 2013/14, and for the rate of broad spectrum antibiotic use to be cut either by 10% on the 2013/14 rate, or down to the median 2013/14 rate across CCGs, whichever would be a smaller reduction.

Last year the scheme saw CCGs offering incentives for practices to hit the targets through their local prescribing incentive schemes.

In NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, practices were offered up to £23,604 to get their total and broad spectrum antibiotics prescribing below the national average.

NHS England made the announcement today to coincide with an international conference on patient safety, with new targets on antibiotics use also unveiled for hospitals.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the new measures ‘will build on the vital work the NHS is already doing to tackle the overuse and inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, so that in years to come patients can continue to be protected from otherwise lethal infections’.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said: ‘The NHS, governments and industry all have key role to play in combating antimicrobial resistance which poses a catastrophic global threat. These measures will put the NHS at the forefront of meeting this challenge.’

Paul Cosford, ‎director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: ‘Public Health England will work with NHS England to support the effective implementation of this guidance and we will continue to improve antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship programmes across the wider health system.’