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Keeping antibiotics working

by Gemma Melling

The success of the ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign has seen GP practices across Knowsley reduce the numbers of antibiotics being prescribed.

The campaign reminds us that taking antibiotics when we don’t need them puts us all at risk by encouraging harmful bacteria that live inside us to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when we really need them.

Between September 2018 and October 2019 there were 110,909 antibacterial items prescribed across Knowsley, compared to 124,223 the previous year – a reduction of almost 11%.

How one Whiston practice successfully reduced antibiotic use

Cedar Cross Medical Centre in Whiston has revealed how it is winning the battle against our continued over-use of antibiotics.

The practice, identified as the highest prescriber of antibiotics by NHS Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group in 2018, introduced a reduction plan which has resulted in a 32% reduction in antibiotic prescribing between October 2018 and September 2019, compared to the previous year.

In order to achieve this success, Cedar Cross implemented monthly monitoring of prescription levels, alongside a communications campaign which saw Keep Antibiotics Working messages appear on the waiting room media screen and website, alongside posters and leaflets.

After identifying a high level of antibiotic prescribing for COPD patients suffering respiratory infections, the practice signposted all COPD patients requesting antibiotics to the Community COPD Rapid Response Team who assessed their treatment needs.

Clinicians also ordered more microbiology cultures to confirm the need for antibiotics and, where clinically appropriate, deferred antibiotic prescriptions for patients were used.

The prescribing lead at Cedar Cross said: “We’ve concentrated on re-educating patients on the need for antibiotics with clinicians resisting pressure from patients to prescribe. We feel that spending the time counselling and educating patients on the appropriate use of antibiotics, together with the practical measures outlined above, is key to the success of any antibiotics prescribing campaign.”

The message is getting across

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said: “We’ve all heard about the dangers of taking antibiotics when we don’t need to, so it’s very encouraging to hear that this message is getting across and resulting in a reduction in antibiotic prescribing in Knowsley.

“Antibiotics are an important tool for doctors and healthcare professionals to help treat serious bacterial infections. Many illnesses, including coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not work against viral infections. In most cases your body can fight these infections on its own so you will get better without using antibiotics.”

For further information on antibiotic resistance please search NHS Antibiotics or visit www.nhs.uk/keepantibioticsworking.