Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Information and resources on the UK’s plans to see antimicrobial resistance contained and controlled by 2040.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) arises when the organisms that cause infection evolve ways to survive treatments. The term antimicrobial includes antibiotic, antiprotozoal, antiviral and antifungal medicines.

Resistance is a natural biological phenomenon but it is increased and accelerated by various factors such as misuse of medicines, poor infection control practices, and global trade and travel. No new class of antibiotics has been developed since the 1980s. For most antibiotics, there are few replacements or alternative products in the development pipeline.

Much of modern medicine - for example, organ transplantation and cancer chemotherapy - relies on antibiotics to prevent and treat infections that can follow treatment. Without effective antibiotics, even minor surgery and routine operations, such as caesarean section, could become high-risk procedures if serious infections can’t be treated.

Frontline health and care staff are vital to promoting effective treatment, educating the general public and preventing the spread of AMR. For additional information, see the:

Information for the general public

Drugs that we rely on to treat common infections, like antibiotics, are becoming less effective. For further information, see:

  • e-Bug offers free resources for children aged 3 to 16
  • Keep antibiotics working provides more information about AMR and what you can do to fight it

Information for healthcare professionals

AMR tools and resources have been developed to help healthcare professionals to improve infection prevention and control practices, and to help improve prescribing. Best practice can reduce the use of antimicrobials and prevent resistance from increasing.

The AMR local indicators enable local teams to identify key issues, and allow them to benchmark their performance against the national picture and other similar organisations. This is publicly available data intended to raise awareness of antibiotic prescribing and AMR, and to facilitate the development of local action plans.

Additional information can be found on the:

Information for livestock and veterinary professionals

A number of animal health organisations have produced guidelines and guidance on the responsible use of antibiotics, as well as additional resources:

  • the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance publishes antimicrobial use targets for the livestock sectors and progress updates towards achieving those targets, and also includes:

  • the RCVS AMR knowledge hub has resources for vets including:

    • Farm Vet Champions, which provides 20 hours of free on-demand continuing professional development to vets (and other veterinary team members and veterinary students). It includes technical species-specific modules, a focus on the responsible prescribing of antibiotics as well as modules looking at vet-farmer communication skills and behaviour change principles

    • Vet Team AMR champions the responsible use of antimicrobials within companion animal, farm animal and equine veterinary teams

  • Animal medicines best practice provides online training for dairy, beef, sheep and pig farmers on the responsible use of antibiotics

  • Farm antibiotics website provides news, facts, statistics, science and reports relating to antibiotics and UK farming

  • Scotland’s healthy animals provides guidance on keeping animals healthy to farmers and livestock keepers, companion animal (pet) and horse keepers, wildlife and rescue centres, animal health professionals and members of the public

UK government AMR action

In January 2019, the UK government published its vision for AMR to be contained and controlled by 2040. In support of the vision, the government also committed to develop a series of 5-year national action plans (NAP), the first of which was published in 2019.

The Department of Health and Social Care is advised by:

Defra is advised by:

AMR surveillance

The UK has one of the most comprehensive surveillance systems in the world, which helps us identify and take action to reduce AMR. The UK contributes to and produces a variety of surveillance reports.

UKHSA is involved in a variety of research projects resulting in many peer-reviewed publications across disciplines. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has funded 2 health protection research units (HPRUs) to run from April 2020 to March 2025 to address the public health threat or AMR. The HPRUs are partnerships between universities and UKHSA, forming multidisciplinary centres of excellence, with a focus on collaboration, training and knowledge sharing:

Additionally, UKHSA collaborates with University College London to undertake research relating to AMR in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as part of the HPRU in blood borne and STIs.

We continue to work closely with other organisations and industry to fight AMR. These include, but are not limited to:

Each of the devolved administrations publish surveillance reports annually:

See further information on Scottish Government action to contain and control AMR in this AMR factsheet.


Published 23 July 2014
Last updated 8 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2022'.

  2. Added 5 publications to the collection: The antimicrobial potential of bacteriophages report: government response; UK One Health Report: Joint report on antibiotic use, antibiotic sales and antibiotic resistance; Antimicrobial resistance national action plan - call for evidence; Antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship competencies; and Antibiotics: secondary care prescriber's checklist.

  3. Added updated links.

  4. Updated links and groups.

  5. Added 'Addendum to the UK 5-year action plan for antimicrobial resistance 2019 to 2024' to the 'strategic publications' section.

  6. Added 'New commitments in the fight against antimicrobial resistance' to news section.

  7. Added 'Managing common infections: guidance for primary care' to 'Resources for healthcare professionals' section. Added 2014 guidance 'UK AMR strategy: measuring success' and progress reports from 2014 to 2016 to 'strategic publications' section.

  8. Added: UK one health report: antibiotics use in humans and animals

  9. All sections updated to reflect most recent content on antimicrobial resistance.

  10. Updated links to resource information

  11. Added new UK public health ARA page inserted into 'Clinical or technical guidance and publications' sub-group.

  12. Added 'Progress report on the UK 5 year AMR strategy: 2016' to the 'Strategic publications' section.

  13. Added the following pages to 'Clinical or technical guidance and publication' section: - Doxycycline as post-exposure prophylaxis for STIs: PHE response - English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) report - Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2016

  14. VMD UK VARSS 2016 report published

  15. Added news story from November 2016: 'Reducing infections in the NHS'

  16. Guidance added re mg/PCU

  17. Added the news story 'Tackling antibiotics resistance in low income countries'.

  18. Updated the list of resources for healthcare professionals to include the AMR local indicators.

  19. Added news story about UN Declaration on combatting antimicrobial resistance.

  20. Added link to guidelines and guidance under resourses and link to Handling manure guidance page

  21. Updated the Strategic publications sections and added the UK one health report: antibiotics use in humans and animals

  22. Added Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae: early detection, management and control toolkit for acute trusts to the collection.

  23. Added the 'Antibiotic use guidance for primary care' publication to the resources.

  24. First published.