Dramatic fall in GP antibiotic prescribing

ANTIBIOTIC prescribing by GPs in England has fallen by 7.3 per cent in just one year, according to figures released by NHS Improvement.

The overall number of antibiotic prescriptions handed out by GPs fell by 2.6 million. Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics – which should be reserved for the treatment of serious infections – fell by 600,000 (16 per cent).

The reduction in antibiotic use significantly exceeds the 1 per cent reduction target set for the NHS.

In the UK, the largest chunk of antibiotic prescribing – 80 per cent - occurs outside of hospital and half of these prescriptions are to treat chest infections. Some GPs have speculated that the drop may in part be due to last year’s mild winter and no major flu outbreak.

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director for Patient Safety at NHS Improvement, said: "This fantastic result achieved in just one year is testament to the huge efforts of GPs, pharmacists and local commissioners. Healthcare staff across the country should be congratulated for this, and our Patient Safety Team will continue to work with them and with our partners at Public Health England and NHS England to bring these figures down even further.

"This work is part of the NHS’ commitment to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of more infections and bacterial strains becoming resistant to antibiotics – one of the biggest threats to patient safety worldwide."