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New antibiotic prescribing guidelines released

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NICE guidance aims to tackle prescribing levels NICE guidance aims to tackle prescribing levels

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released it's first guidance directly aimed at tackling antimicrobial resistance.

The guidelines, aimed at nurses, GPs, pharmacists and doctors, will help to monitor the prescribing of antibiotics in an attempt to cut down on antimicrobial resistance.

The guidance highlights the need for local and multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardships programmes. These teams should be able to review prescribing and and resistance data and feedback to prescribers in order to change prescribing habits. They should also work with prescribers to be understand reasons for very high or very low volumes of antimicrobial prescribing.

Speaking at the launch of the guidelines, Tessa Lewis, GP and medical advisor to All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre and vice chair of the guideline development group, said: 'The guideline emphasises that the stewardship team engage with staff. It outlines the discussions that should be had in consultations and that there should be increased communication between care settings.'

She said community and practice nurses were underrepresented in prescribing and that they could do a good job in prescribing roles. 'Community and practice nurses need to get involved in stewardship programmes, as the processes already exist within general practice to compare prescribing data,' she added.

Overall antibiotic prescribing in England been steadily increasing over several years. Nationally 41.6 million antibiotic prescriptions were issued in 2013-14 at a cost to the NHS of £192 million. The increased rates of antibiotic prescribing is explained in part by the fact that use of antibiotics has increased but very few advances have been made in antibiotics for at least a generation.

Next year NICE will release guidance for the general public to inform of the appropriate times that antibiotics are required.

Professor Mark Baker, centre for clinical practice director at NICE, said: 'Part of the problem is that the general public is addicted to the idea that antibiotics can cure all infections but most don't. Antibotics themselves are not harmless, they can often do more harm than good.'

Mr Baker also said that other organisations such as Public Health England were treating it as an important issu and that it was their responsibility to put sanctions into place if a clinician was prescribing unusual levels of antibiotics.

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