Audit of antibiotics supplied by pharmacy urgent medicine scheme to be carried out by NHS England

Exclusive: Keith Ridge says that although he is not worried about the steep rise in antibiotic prescribing over the past year, he is keen to ensure the supply of antibiotics through the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service is appropriate.

Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England

NHS England plans to carry out an audit of antibiotics supplied by pharmacists under the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS), at the request of Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England.

In June 2019, data obtained by The Pharmaceutical Journal under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the number of antibiotic courses supplied by community pharmacies through the NUMSAS almost doubled over one year, from 957 items dispensed between March 2017 and February 2018 to 1,797 items between March 2018 and February 2019.

Speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal in July 2019, Ridge said that although he was not worried about the rise, he was keen to investigate to make sure that the supply of antibiotics to patients through the NUMSAS was appropriate.

“I think antibiotics are about 2% of all NUMSAS supplies and about a third of the requests,” he said.

“Some of the requests are for, for example, liquid medication where a parent has spilt the liquid and needs to go back [and get more], and some are for long-term antibiotic use and sometimes that is required clinically.

“I have asked for there to be an audit; there’s been one already, but I’ve asked for a further one. I need to make sure that it does fit with the National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance and that the appropriate safeguards and processes are in place.”

According to the data obtained by The Pharmaceutical Journal, amoxicillin and penicillin V were the most commonly supplied antibiotics over both years, followed by trimethoprim in 2017/2018 and doxycycline in 2018/2019.

In August 2018, NHS England wrote to all NUMSAS providers saying it was “of concern” that the majority of items supplied were the broad-spectrum antibiotics that were most linked to antibiotic resistance.

NHS England told The Pharmaceutical Journal that a timeline and plan for the antibiotic supply audit had yet to be drawn up but further details were likely be released later in 2019.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2019, Vol 303, No 7928;303(7928):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206880

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