Portsmouth-area GPs today welcomed a big drop of around 20% in the number of patient prescriptions for antibiotics.
The figures for June 2019, the last month for which statistics are available, show a major fall in the geographical area covered by the three local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
In the four years since June 2015, the number of antimicrobial prescriptions has fallen from:
The two Medicines Management Teams for the three CCGs have been supporting audits in practices around antimicrobial use and GPs and practice nurses are taking a pro-active role in promoting alternative treatments where appropriate.
Patients are also helping clinicians to spread the word with an active network of ‘Antibiotic Guardians’ championing the calls for the drugs to be prescribed only when absolutely necessary.
In the Gosport and Fareham and South Eastern Hampshire areas alone, the number of guardians has shot up from 17 to 276 in a twelve-month period.
GPs are using evidence based practice to ensure the correct antibiotic for the condition is used and for the correct length of time.
Dr Nick Moore, the medicines management lead for Portsmouth CCG, said: “I think a growing number of patients are becoming aware of the fact that the more we use antibiotics, the more our bodies can become resistant to them. From a doctor’s viewpoint, this is a very welcome trend.
“Taking antibiotics encourages bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means they may not be effective when we most need them. Colds, most coughs, sore throats, ear and other infections usually get better without antibiotics, as your body can fight them on its own.”
Dr Alastair Bateman, the clinical lead for medicines management for Fareham and Gosport and SEH CCGs, said: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today. Without effective antibiotics, many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy all rely on access to effective antibiotics.
“Of course, there are many cases where a GP will feel the use of antibiotics is the most appropriate and effective treatment for a patient.
“But there are often other courses of action that can be taken. Antibiotics can often cause unpleasant side effects too – such as rashes, stomach pains and diarrhoea.”