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GPs feel under pressure to prescribe antibiotics

GPs feel pressure to prescribe antibiotics and sometimes prescribe them even when they do not feel it is necessary, a survey has revealed.

The survey of 1,000 GPs found 90% of respondents felt pressure from patients to prescribe them antibiotics, while over a quarter – 28% – said they prescribe them several times a week when they are unsure they are medically necessary.

The survey was commissioned by charity Nesta for the £10 million Longitude Prize – after the public voted for the prize to be focused on antibiotic use and the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Nearly half – 45% – of the GPs surveyed said they had prescribed antibiotics for a viral infection, knowing it would not be effective. But 70% of GPs also said they sometimes prescribed them because of doubts about whether an infection was viral or bacterial, with 24% citing a lack of easy-to-use diagnostic tools.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, a GP in London, said: ‘These results show the pressure GPs face to prescribe antibiotics when they aren’t necessary, something I understand very well.’ 

‘The more antibiotics taken, the more resistant bacteria come to them. Antibiotic resistance is a real issue and more needs to be done conserve antibiotics for the future. Diagnostics play a valuable role in making this happen. Not only can diagnostics help determine the type of infection someone has, they could gather valuable data and aid the global surveillance efforts.’


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