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NICE releases draft antimicrobial stewardship guidelines

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Antibiotic resistance is increasingly common Antibiotic resistance is increasingly common

NICE has released draft guidance on reducing the impact and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The guidelines make a number of recommendations on how healthcare professionals can limit the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Some of these include establishing antimicrobial stewardship programmes in all organisations; encouraging prescribers to give patient's antibiotics only when it is strictly necessary; and promoting awareness of the issue to senior prescribers, so they can ensure that their teams prescribe responsibly.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: 'Antibiotics have served us well in treating infections for over 60 years, but as a society we have become too dependent on them and they are now seen as a "catch all" for every illness and infection.'

Antimicrobial resistance is increasingly becoming a major concern for the NHS. The guidelines emphasise the need to reduce the unnecessary prescription of antimicrobial drugs, which is a prominent cause of the issue. A recent study by PHE showed that community prescriptions have risen by 32%, while cases of antimicrobial resistance have risen by 6% since 2010. Another study published in the BMJ, found that antibiotics prescribed for upper respiratory tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, skin and soft tissue infections, and acute otitis media, fail 15% of the time.

Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: 'Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to health security facing the world today and everybody must take action. We want to support all doctors and other prescribers in reducing their prescribing rates where possible.'

Dr Baker added: 'We need to do everything we can to prevent patients and the public building up a resistance, so that antibiotics remain effective in the future when they might really need them. We also desperately need research and investment to develop new antibiotics to tackle emerging diseases.'

The draft guidance is open for consultation until 17 March.

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