An incentive scheme to reward hospitals and GP practices that reduce their antibiotic prescribing has been launched by NHS England.
From April 2016, £150m will be set aside to support reviews by hospital pharmacists and clinicians to look at ways of cutting inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are also being paid to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed in primary care by 4% or to the average prescribing levels of 2013–2014.
It is estimated that a CCG with a patient population of 300,000 could receive £150,000 a year to help practices achieve the recommended targets.
Trusts will also receive financial incentives to collect and share data about the use of antibiotics within 72 hours of the start of treatment and for reducing their use of broad spectrum antibiotics.
Launching the scheme on 10 March 2016, which NHS England claimed was the world’s largest healthcare incentive programme, its chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to patient safety and the quality of care. These measures will build on the vital work the NHS is already doing to tackle the overuse and inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, so that in years to come patients can continue to be protected from otherwise lethal infections.”
Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “Tackling antimicrobial resistance is rightly a national and international priority. One key action in work to slow resistance is ensuring all antibiotics are appropriately prescribed and that these prescriptions are regularly reviewed.
“PHE will work with NHS England to support the effective implementation of this guidance and we will continue to improve antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship programmes across the wider health system.”