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Increasing antibiotic prescribing worries leaders

10 October 2014

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Antibiotic prescribing is rising both in general practice and in the community, new figures from Public Health England show.

Between 2010 and 2013, antibiotic consumption rose by 4% and community prescriptions (for example, by nurse prescribers) rose by 32%. 

PHE singled out community prescriptions as an area of concern which needs to be further examined. 

The figures link an increasing number of E.coli bloodstream infections to an increase of resistance to a number of key antibiotics. 

There were also significant differences in prescribing between different areas in the country. 

The highest levels of GP prescribing were seen in Durham, Darlington and Tees which was over 40% higher than London (26.5 versus 18.9 daily defined dose per 1,000 inhabitants). 

However, Public Health England believe this may be due to access to healthcare in London (with people attending hospitals instead of GP practices to access treatment), as London has the highest amount of hospital prescribing per population. 

Lead author Dr Susan Hopkins, a healthcare epidemiologist at PHE, said: “The aim now must be to reduce levels of prescribing back to that seen in 2010. There are already a number of different activities going ahead to support this including the development of quality measures for prescribing. 

“This will enable local clinical commissioning groups to monitor the prescribing of hospitals and surgeries in their area and see how they compare against a benchmark. They will also be responsible for taking action against inappropriate prescribing in their area.” 

Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to health security facing the world today and everybody must take action. We want to support all doctors and other prescribers in reducing their prescribing rates where possible.  These data will play an important part in highlighting regional variations in prescribing.”