“These figures show the lowest antibiotics prescribing rates in five years – and a huge drop from when prescribing peaked in 2012. This shows that healthcare professionals across the UK are taking our warnings seriously and working to address them.
“However, growing resistance to antibiotics continues to be a global threat and we can’t be complacent. The trends shown today – particularly the link to deprivation – is concerning.
“This could quite legitimately be because people in high areas of deprivation present more frequently with conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, that need antibiotics – it is not necessarily indicative of inappropriate prescribing.
“GPs often face pressure from patients to prescribe antibiotics, particularly during winter months when more people are feeling ill, so the national significant drop in prescribing is positive and shows that the work the College and others are doing to support appropriate prescribing and urge healthcare professionals to say ‘no’ is taking effect.
“We all have a responsibility to reduce antibiotics prescribing even further and curb resistance to what are excellent and life-saving drugs when prescribed appropriately.
“Ultimately we need more investment in new drugs – we haven’t seen a new strain of antibiotic in over 25 years – so that we do have an arsenal of medication that will be able to treat emerging and future diseases, and keep our patients safe.
“But this won’t happen overnight and in the meantime, we need to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness.
“The RCGP has highlighted the challenge that we face through resistance to antibiotics and we have developed the TARGET antibiotics toolkit, with Public Health England, to support GPs in the appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.”
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.