The number of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria has risen by nearly a fifth, according to Public Health England’s second English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance report.
The report found that rates of bloodstream infections caused by Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae increased by 15.6% and 20.8% respectively, from 2010 to 2014. The number of Streptococcus pneumoniae infections fell by 23% between 2010 and 2014, which may be related to increased pneumococcal vaccination rates.
‘Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to the delivery of healthcare across the globe and these findings clearly show the need for both clinicians and patients to act now and do all they can to behave as responsible stewards of the use of antimicrobial medications,’ said Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England director of patient safety. ‘As one of the largest healthcare providers in the world, it is vital the NHS is seen to lead that fight against the global problem of antimicrobial resistance so these immensely important medicines can be preserved for now and future generations.’
In 2014, 74% of antibiotics in England were prescribed in general practice, while 11% were given to hospital inpatients, 7% to hospital outpatients, 5% to patients in dental practices, and 3% to those in other community settings. The report also found that there was a 6.5% increase of prescribing in primary care between 2011 and 2014, with 2.4% of the increase occurring between 2013 and 2014. It suggests that this means that longer courses and higher doses of antibiotics are being prescribed in general practice.
Dr Susan Hopkins, lead author and healthcare epidemiologist at PHE, said: ‘While this report shows that overall antibiotic prescribing increased in 2014, we must remember that reducing prescribing is a long journey and it will take time before the effects of our various interventions are reflected in surveillance data. It is vital that we tackle antibiotic prescribing across the population and ensure prescriptions are given only when they will make a difference to patient outcomes.’