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‘National antimicrobial resistance strategy needed’

29 August 2014

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A national strategy for improving infection prevention and control measures in health care is vital for preserving the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs, healthcare leaders have claimed. 

A position paper released today by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for a national strategy which would be robust enough to withstand changes of government or NHS reorganisations. 

A review was launched last month into the development of antimicrobial drugs. Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the world could be “cast back into the dark ages of medicine” unless swift action is taken to tackle the threat of resistance. 

In its paper, the RCN recommends that a greater focus on strengthening public health initiatives will provide greatly needed support for people to live well and avoid the need for antibiotics. It argues that more must be done to engage health care workers from across the professions, patients, and the public in this major issue.

Rose Gallagher, RCN adviser for infection prevention and control, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is increasingly recognised as one of the major health challenges of our age. It is hugely worrying that many medicines could become ineffective if we don’t get to grips with the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. 

“This is a global, long-term threat. A robust national strategy on infection prevention and control is essential for reducing the risk of AMR. We cannot risk this issue slipping down the list of priorities or being subject to political whims, so the strategy must be politics-proof.”  

A recent survey revealed that GPs have been prescribing antibiotics when patients have pushed for them, despite the drugs having little to no effect. 

Most GPs (90%) said they felt under pressure to prescribe the drugs. 

Earlier this year Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said that GPs have fuelled the spread of superbugs by “heedlessly” giving out antibiotics.