Bristol GPs are leading the way in the battle against antibiotic resistance, after achieving a significant reduction in the number of antibiotics prescribed to patients.
First year target
80% of all antibiotics given to humans are prescribed outside hospitals, and GPs in Bristol have cut the number of antibiotic prescriptions by 9% in one year - beating the target set by NHS England of 1% this year, and 4% next year.
Antibiotic resistance has the potential to be a greater threat to the population than cancer, with increasing numbers of infections that can’t be treated with antibiotics. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, chemotherapy and animal health all rely on access to antibiotics that work.
"GPs in Bristol have done a great job in achieving such a big reduction. There is clearly a culture change starting to take effect. This change in prescribing practices will go a long way to helping us combat the very real threat of antibiotic resistance. Considering that Bristol practices were already in the top 25%, it represents a wonderful achievement."
- Dr Martin Jones, NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Clinical Chair
Clear medical need
One way to ensure antibiotics continue to work is not to use them unless they are needed. Prescribers may sometimes err on the side of caution and prescribe antibiotics when they are not necessary, which may be due to patients and parents requesting antibiotics to treat infections. It is worth remembering that all medicines, including antibiotics, have side effects.
However, Bristol GPs are working to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed only when there is clear medical need, they prescribe the right antibiotic specific to the infection and for the minimum duration.
"Everyone can help ensure antibiotics continue to work for future generations by becoming an ‘antibiotic guardian’, to find out more and pledge support visit their website."
- Jon Hayhurst, Head of Medicines Management for Bristol CCG
With support from the University of Bristol, Bristol CCG has been working with GPs to develop innovative ways of prescribing. An example of this is a website that has been developed for parents who are caring for a child with a cough.