Community pharmacies have a key role in tackling anti-microbial resistance (AMR), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

Reducing risk from AMR is one of Public Health England’s (PHE) ten key priorities for the next five years, the body announced in its infectious diseases strategy for 2020-25, published yesterday (11 September).

PHE has identified 19 new mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in infection-causing bacteria in the UK over the last decade, as well as 32 bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics in the last five years alone, it said.

The body added that it would work with ‘partners across the public health family’, including the NHS and local authorities, to be ‘a global leader’ in tackling AMR.

NPA policy manager Helga Mangion said: ‘Antimicrobial resistance is a major public health issue in the UK and is something that all healthcare professionals need to take action against.

‘Community pharmacists are ideally placed to provide stewardship on this issue and to help educate people on best practice related to the appropriate use of antibiotics.’


‘A local lifeline’


PHE’s strategic priorities also include integrating and strengthening England’s health protection system, optimising vaccine provision and addressing health inequalities.

Community pharmacies are ‘disproportionately located in deprived areas’, making them ‘a rare exception’ to the inverse care law where those with the greatest need have the least access to advice and treatment, the NPA said.

NPA board member Andrew Lane added: ‘These are the communities that are often under-doctored and have seen the local health estate shrink, but community pharmacies are still very much present in all our communities and are a local lifeline in some areas.’

The NPA contributed to the PHE strategy and ‘will continue to put the case’ for community pharmacy’s ‘vital’ role in delivering public health objectives across the UK, the membership body added.