Incentive scheme to reduce antibiotic prescribing in England

AN incentive scheme to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in hospitals, general practices and other healthcare settings has been launched by NHS England.

Set to go live in April 2016, the programme will offer hospitals incentive funding worth up to £150 million to support expert pharmacists and clinicians to review and reduce inappropriate prescribing.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will be supported to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed in primary care by 4 per cent, or to the average performance levels of 2013/14. A typical local CCG serving a population of 300,000 people will receive up to £150,000 a year to support GP practices in improving antimicrobial prescribing.

Hospital trusts will also receive payments for gathering and sharing evidence of antibiotic consumption and review within 72 hours of the beginning of treatment. Information will be available for commissioners to review on a dedicated website and will allow them to directly monitor progress.

Further payments will be made for reducing the use of specific types of drug which are used to treat a wide range of bacteria. Broad-spectrum antibiotics need to be reserved to treat resistant disease and should generally be used only when standard antibiotics are ineffective.

The payments form part of two schemes that reward excellence and quality improvement in the NHS: the 2016/17 Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN), where it will be worth an extra 0.25 per cent of trusts’ budgets; and the Quality Premium scheme, which is paid per patient to clinical commissioning groups that successfully deliver the proposed measures.

Paul Cosford, ‎Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England, said: "Tackling antimicrobial resistance is rightly a national and international priority. One key action in work to slow resistance is ensuring all antibiotics are appropriately prescribed and that these prescriptions are regularly reviewed. I am delighted the NHS is taking action to address this through its Commissioning for Quality and Innovation guidance.

"Public Health England will work with NHS England to support the effective implementation of this guidance and we will continue to improve antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship programmes across the wider health system."