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Antibiotic use in UK has declined for the first ever time


For the first time, a reduction of antibiotic use has been seen across the whole healthcare, according to a new report from Public Health England (PHE).

Fewer antibiotics are being prescribed by GPs and clinicians, the research has shown, which helps towards safely reducing the amount of antibiotics inappropriately prescribed.

According to the report, 2.2 million fewer prescriptions were made in 2015 compared to 2014, equating to 6% of all prescriptions.

This could help to tackle antibiotic resistance, says PHE, which is when antibiotics are not used properly by patients, such as ignoring the instructions from clinicians and sharing antibiotics. It also includes unnecessary prescriptions by clinicians and the wrong selection of antibiotics.

Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics (which are effective against a wide range of bacteria and more likely to lead to resistance) has also decreased in primary care for the second year running.

Dr Susan Hopkins, lead author and healthcare epidemiologist at PHE, explains that this is good news, but there is still much work to be done.

“We hope today’s report will help doctors, clinicians and wider healthcare professionals understand and measure what is happening in their area and develop local action plans to be tackle antimicrobial resistance.” she says.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS National Director of Patient Safety, agrees that this is a step in the right direction. “To help continue this trend we are working with our partners to introduce new national incentive schemes for 2017/19 that will further support healthcare providers and commissioners to ensure antibiotics are used responsibly and appropriately, and further prevent the infections that require antibiotic treatments.

“We are fully committed to supporting the NHS to meet the government’s antimicrobial resistance ambitions of reducing both gram-negative bacteraemia and inappropriate prescribing by 50% by 2020.”

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