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UK healthcare professionals urged to say 'no' to antibiotics

Royal Colleges issues joint statement to members warning of antimicrobial resistance

UK flagUK healthcare professionals have been urged by their representative bodies to say 'no' to patients who ask for antibiotics for minor illnesses.

Several Royal Colleges and the UK Faculty of Public Health released a joint statement today warning doctors, nurses and pharmacists that the current 'better safe than sorry' approach to prescribing antibiotics is no longer effective considering the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

According to the organisations, which include the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), a “radical new approach” is needed if antibiotics are to remain effective.

As part of this, frontline healthcare professionals have been told to resist pressure from patients for unnecessary prescriptions and to explore alternative treatment options.

The statement also calls for doctors, nurses and pharmacists to take personal responsibility for re-educating the public about the consequences that can result if antibiotics are over-used or misused.

Phil Howard, consultant pharmacist in antimicrobials from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "If we are still to have effective antibiotics in 20 years time, the public and healthcare professionals need to change their attitude to antibiotics now.

“We need to develop a culture of self-care that minimises infection risks through better hygiene, having recommended vaccination, and only resorting to antibiotics for treating serious infections,” he added.

Specific recommendations include improving the monitoring of prescriptions for antibiotics, introducing a minimum dosage and mandating the labelling of foods that use antibiotics.

The statement comes the week after UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned of the threat of resistance to antibiotics and called for a review of the economic issues surrounding research to encourage the development of new medicines.

The urgent need to revise the way the antibiotics are used also led to the £10m Longitude Prize being awarded to a diagnostic tool for bacterial infections, while a campaign to encourage alternatives to antibiotics was rewarded at the recent Communiqué Awards 2014.

Following the joint statement from the professional bodies, a national summit for pharmacists, doctors, nurses and public health professionals will be held on November 6, 2014 to look at how they can work together, and with patients, to tackle antibiotic resistance.

Article by
Thomas Meek

7th July 2014

From: Healthcare

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