Health practitioners should receive training and education from commissioners to reduce the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
New guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) urges commissioners and organisations to encourage antimicrobial stewardships – a system-wide approach to promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials to “preserve their future effectiveness.”
Prescribers are also advised to prescribe the shortest effective course at the most appropriate dose for the individual patient.
Multi-disciplinary antimicrobial stewardship teams should be set up to work across all care settings to give detailed feedback on prescribing and resistance data. They will also provide assistance to prescribers who prescribe antimicrobials outside of local guidelines without justification.
The new guidance is hoped to tackle the “growing threat” of antimicrobial resistance so antibiotics continue to be effective in treating infections.
It is claimed a new infectious disease has been discovered nearly every year since the 1980s, while very few antibiotics have been developed.
Antibiotic usage numbers have risen every year since 1999, with the exception of 2013-14, data from the NHS Business Services Authority shows.
Chair of the NICE committee that developed the guidelines, Professor Alastair Hay, said the more antibiotics are used, the less effective they become as diseases evolve and become resistant to existing antibiotics.
“Resistance to all antimicrobials is increasing and, combined with a lack of new antimicrobial medicines, there is a heightened risk in the future that we may not be able to treat infections effectively,” he said.
Almost 42m antibacterial prescriptions were issued in 2013-14, at a cost of £192m.