Helping GPs to cut antibiotic prescriptions by 2.6m in just one year

Our national Patient Safety Team has helped GPs in the NHS to reduce how often patients are being prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, cutting the number of prescriptions down by over 2.6 million in one year alone.

The team worked with Public Health England and NHS England to set goals and share data on antibiotic prescribing to encourage improvements across the country.

The result: we've seen an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions of 7.3% in just one year. This significantly exceeds the 1% reduction target set for the NHS to reduce the use of antibiotics for infections where they are not usually required or for conditions where antibiotics don’t work.

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director for Patient Safety at NHS Improvement, said:

"This fantastic result achieved in just one year is testament to the huge efforts of GPs, pharmacists and local commissioners. Healthcare staff across the country should be congratulated for this, and our Patient Safety Team will continue to work with them and with our partners at Public Health England and NHS England to bring these figures down even further."

This work is part of the NHS’ commitment to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of more infections and bacterial strains becoming resistant to antibiotics – one of the biggest threats to patient safety worldwide.

In numbers

Data released in May 2016 shows:

  • the total number of antibiotics prescribed by GPs is down by 7.3% in just one year – a total of 2,696,143 fewer items
  • the unnecessary use of ‘broad-spectrum’ antibiotics, which should be reserved for the treatment of serious infections, has been reduced by 16% - a reduction of over 600,000 items

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