Prescriptions issued in general practice have fallen by 7.3% in the past year, NHS Improvement has said, helping to stem the rising tide of antibiotic resistance.
In the 2015/16 period, a total of 2,696,143 less items and drugs were prescribed, with the figure falling from 37,033,310 in 2014/15 to 34,337,167 this year. The official target of the NHS was a reduction of just 1%.
‘This fantastic result achieved in just one year is testament to the huge efforts of GPs, pharmacists and local commissioners,’ said Dr Mike Durkin, NHS national director of patient safety.
The reduction in anitbiotic prescriptions is important, due to the rise of antibiotic resistant conditions by the overuse of the treatments. NHS Improvement stated that there has been a reduction of 626,302 in the 'unnecessary use' of ‘broad-spectrum’ antibiotics, which should be reserved for the treatment of serious infections only. This equates to a fall of 16%.
‘Efforts in the NHS to reduce the overprescribing of antibiotics are crucial, and these latest figures are a significant step forward in this fight’ added Dr Durkin.
Data cited by NHS Improvement states that up to 50,000 lives are lost annually to antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe and the US, while the global toll is at least 700,000 deaths. Without action, it is estimated that by 2050 a person will die every three seconds as a result of antibiotic resistant infections, a figure equivalent to roughly 10million deaths a year.
‘Every year, too many people suffer and lose their lives due to antibiotic-resistant infections. At a time when the NHS has advanced in many areas of patient care, science and technology, we must work to prevent healthcare going backwards to time where antibiotics are no longer fighting infections,’ added Dr Durkin.