“When diseases become resistant to antibiotics, it means that antibiotics will cease to work and as it stands, we don’t have an alternative. The guidance today to prescribe the right antibiotic at the right dose at the right time is a sensible mantra and one that GPs try to abide to wherever possible.
“But we can come under enormous pressure from patients to prescribe antibiotics, even when we know they are not the best course of action. People must realise that this is dangerous for each and every one of us, not just ‘other people’.
“These can be very difficult and stressful conversations for GPs to have and we know that NICE acknowledges this. We need a societal change in attitudes towards the use of antibiotics and any suggestion that hard pressed GPs – who are already trying to do their jobs in increasingly difficult circumstances – will be reported to the regulator is counter productive and unhelpful.
“If this were to happen, we would be looking to the General Medical Council to support any GP or other health professional who finds themselves on the receiving end of complaints or criticism about decisions made over the prescribing of antibiotics.
“The College welcomes the team approach to ensuring that antibiotics prescribing is done appropriately and responsible, and the opportunity for reflection that is advocated in this guidance, as long as it is implemented in an open and supportive way.
“It is also concerning that there hasn’t been a new class of antibiotics produced in over 25 years, so we seriously need investment into research to develop new drugs that are effective at tackling existing and emerging diseases.
“But this won’t happen overnight and in the meantime, we all have a responsibility to curb this trend, and 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 7574/7575/7633
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.