There has been a fall in the number of antibiotics prescribed across the entire healthcare system for the first time, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE).
In 2015, there were 2.2 million fewer antibiotics dispensed in the community compared to 2014, around 6% of all prescriptions. The data also showed that three quarters of antibiotic prescribing occurs in general practice, followed by hospital inpatients which accounts for 11%, and a further 7% in outpatient settings. The remainder comprised use in dental practice (5%) and other community settings (3%).
‘The overall decrease in the number of antibiotics being prescribed is great news but we can’t become complacent; there is still a lot of work to be done,’ said Dr Susan Hopkins, healthcare epidemiologist at PHE.
PHE are making efforts to reduce prescriptions to combat the rise of antibiotic resistant diseases. The organisation reported that number of E. coli bloodstream infections that were resistant to antibiotics increased by 11% to just over 4600 between 2014 and 2015, and infections resistant to ciprofloxacin increasing by 5.2% to almost 7000.
The report also identified there is wide variation in the rates of resistance to antibiotics across England. By CCG, resistance to trimethoprim, used to treat urinary tract infection, ranges from 16.3% to 66.7% Additionally, according to PHE, antimicrobial stewardship continues to improve in general practices, while further work is needed in Community Health Trusts.
'Antimicrobial resistance is the biggest threat to global health – it could halt the progress of over a century of modern medicine,' said Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer. 'Before antibiotics and vaccines, around 40% of all deaths were due to infections, now it is just 7%. We do not want to see this reversed so we must do all we can to fight drug resistant infections.'