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GPs should take ‘personal responsibility’ for educating public on antibiotic overuse

GPs should ‘resist’ patient pressure to prescribe antibiotics, and should ‘take personal responsibility’ for educating the public about the consequences of their misuse, the RCGP has said.

Joint guidance issued today by four Royal Colleges and the Faculty of Public Health also recommends health professionals improve the monitoring of prescription rates.

It also calls on patients to give infections time to clear up and to keep themselves healthy.

This comes after warnings from the UK’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies and the prime minister that the current attitude to prescribing could cast the world back to a ‘dark age of medicine’.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We have developed a worrying reliance on [antibiotics] and many patients now see them as a cure-all, even for minor symptoms which will get better on their own or can be treated effectively with other forms of medication.’

‘GPs face enormous pressure to prescribe them even though we know that infections adapt to the antibiotics used to kill them and, over time, they can make treatment ineffective.’

Dr Baker added: ‘It is imperative that doctors, nurses and pharmacists start talking about the alternatives available to patients who ask for antibiotics to treat minor illnesses.’