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Call for antibiotic prescribing cuts

AntibioticNovember 10 – Nurses have been urged to back a national campaign to cut antibiotic prescribing. Senior doctors, nurses and pharmacists have called for a new target to reduce use of the drugs. They say use of antibiotics should be returned to the same levels as 2010 in a “roll back”. Between 2010 and 2013 antibiotic prescribing increased by 6%, according to Public Health England. The call came from a summit involving several royal colleges, including the Royal College of GPs.

Experts said reducing the use of antibiotics would help reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance. Its emergence is strongly linked to high rates of prescribing. Its secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said GPs should not give in to pressure to prescribe the drugs for patients who do not need them.

He said: “We have developed a worrying reliance on them and some of our patients now see them as a cure-all.

“Health professionals can face enormous pressure to prescribe them but all of our patients and the public need to be aware of the risks associated with inappropriate use of antibiotics and how to use them appropriately.

“It is absolutely imperative that all of us – doctors, nurses and pharmacists – work in partnership with our patients to talk about when antibiotics are necessary and when they are not required. We should also be pointing out the alternatives available to those of our patients who ask for antibiotics to treat viral illnesses.”

There was further backing from the Royal College of Nursing.

Rose Gallagher, a specialist adviser to the college, said: “Nursing staff have a key role to play in limiting AMR through their leadership and skills supporting infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, and public health. The nursing profession is determined to support this important work both in the UK and internationally.”

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