The Patients Association has criticised health service commissioners in England for their slow progress in implementing the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) antimicrobial stewardship guidance (AMS) aimed at slowing the development of antibiotic resistance.
The results of a Freedom of Information request by the UK-based national healthcare charity concerning 144 NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) reveal that only 12% have fully implemented the guidance, which was published in August 2015, into routine practice.
Nearly a third of the CCGs (31%) don’t have a ‘named’ individual responsible for the implementation of the AMS programme and 10% don’t have a local AMS programme in place at all.
The Patients Association’s report says that because three quarters of antibiotics are currently prescribed in primary care, “there is clearly a major need to provide as much support as possible to healthcare practitioners in this part of the system, and help ensure that the right prescribing decisions are being made.”
One of the recommendations by NICE and the Royal College of General Practitioners was that CCGs should evaluate C-reactive protein point-of-care testing in primary care, a measurement of the body’s natural response to bacterial infection and the subsequent need for an antibiotic. But according to The Patients Association’s findings, more than half (51%) of the CCGs said they had not done this.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, says: “We need a greater adoption and implementation of current AMS policy levers, particularly in primary care where the majority of prescribing exists, alongside an increased uptake of measures proven to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.”
Andrea Jenkyns, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Patient Safety, says we must ensure that our remaining treatment options are maintained as effectively as possible. “The only way this can be achieved is by adhering fully to current guidance and examples of best practice,” she says.
“[The] findings clearly illustrate that although progress is being made and a number of areas should be commended for their antimicrobial stewardship efforts, other areas lag worryingly behind and much more needs to be done to ensure that those with whom responsibility rests are doing all they can to help minimise the very real dangers that antimicrobial resistance presents.”