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PHE Publishes Surveillance of Antibiotic Resistance and Antibiotic Use

June 29, 2016


A new Public Health England (PHE) reveals that overall antibiotic resistant infections increased during 2014, with the rates of bloodstream infections caused by Klebsiella and Escherichia coli and pneumoniae rising by 20.8% and 15.6% respectively from 2010 to 2014.

The report underlined that reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed is essential in in combatting resistance and that the number of prescriptions dispensed in primary care has decreased for the second year in a row.

While the number of prescriptions issued has decreased, when accounting for total antibiotic consumption in primary care, an increase of 6.5% from 2011 and 2014 was reported.

The use of broad spectrum antibiotics (antibiotics effective against a wide range of bacteria) has decreased in primary care to 8.5%, which means that England is now the lowest prescriber of some of these drugs in the European Union.

Early evidence indicates that informing prescribers of their prescribing patterns and comparing them to their peers could help to reduce antibiotic prescribing. A continued focus by everybody who prescribes, dispenses and administers antibiotics is crucial in the effort to reduce antibiotic consumption the report stated.

Dr Susan Hopkins, lead author and healthcare epidemiologist at PHE, commented:

“Publishing GP and hospital prescribing data and analysing antibiotic prescribing trends is an important part of work to reduce antimicrobial resistance; it is also one of the key areas PHE is responsible for in the cross-government AMR strategy.

“Whilst this report shows that overall antibiotic prescribing increased in 2014, we must remember that reducing prescribing is a long journey and it will take time before the effects of our various interventions are reflected in surveillance data. It is vital that we tackle antibiotic prescribing across the population and ensure prescriptions are given only when they will make a difference to patient outcomes.

“In 2016, we will start to present data on healthcare associated infections, antibiotic prescribing and resistance online via the PHE Public Health Profiles. This will enable transparent data to be viewed by healthcare professionals and the public in one place, supporting healthcare providers to develop local action plans in their organisations.

“There is a lot of work taking place to tackle antibiotic resistance and reducing prescriptions of antibiotics is just one strand of that work. We must not underestimate how much effort is still needed to turn the tide of antibiotic resistance.”

Professor John Watson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, added:

“The UK is leading the call for international action on drug resistant infections, and we need to ensure we are taking action nationally as well. Understanding patterns of both antibiotic prescribing and resistance is essential to tackling this problem and it is good news that the number of prescriptions for antibiotics by GPs is going down, but there is still work to do. This report will help healthcare professionals take action in their local areas and is crucial to our plans to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.”

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