GPs have cut down the amount of antibiotics they use ‘dramatically’ over the past year, according to a new report.
NHS Improvement found prescriptions for all types of antibiotic were down by more than 2.6 million on the previous year, to about 34 million in 2015/16.
This meant GPs exceeded their target to cut all antibiotic use considerably, at a 7% overall reduction compared with the 1% target set by public health chiefs.
GPs also massively cut down the amount of broad-spectrum antibiotics they prescribed, with a 16% reduction compared with a 10% target.
It comes after GPs were praised for hitting key ‘Quality Premium’ targets on antibiotic prescribing set for CCGs, ahead of schedule.
The report, Reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics, says: ‘The national Patient Safety Team, newly hosted in NHS Improvement, has helped GPs in the NHS to dramatically reduce how often patients are being prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, cutting the number of prescriptions down by over 2.6 million in one year alone as part of the national fight against antibiotic resistance.’
Dr Mike Durkin, from NHS Improvement, said: ‘This [is a] fantastic result achieved in just one year.’
Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, said the ‘significant drop’ in prescribing reflected the hard work GPs were doing to improve appropriate prescribing, ‘despite the pressure GPs often face from patients to prescribe antibiotics’.
Dr Baker added that more needed to be done – including work to cut antibiotic use in other settings, such as agriculture, and to come up with new drugs.
But she said: ‘This won’t happen overnight and in the meantime, we need to continue to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness.’