News story

Hospitals urged to think hard before using antibiotics

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Doctors and nurses are being asked to think twice before they prescribe antibiotics in a bid to prevent patients from developing resistance to these life saving drugs.

The Department of Health has today published new guidance on the use of antibiotics in hospitals ahead of European Antibiotics Awareness Day tomorrow.

Start Smart, Then Focus

The new guidance, called ‘Start Smart, Then Focus’, provides hospital prescribers with best practice advice on antimicrobial prescribing.

It will help ensure patients receive the right drug, at the right time, at the right dose, and for the right duration for the individual - avoiding unnecessary lengthy antibiotic treatment and inappropriate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Mis-use of antibiotics is causing bacteria to become resistant. Some antibiotics aren’t as effective as they used to be because the bacteria they are designed to tackle have become resistant to them. These important medicines need to be used wisely to maximise the NHS’s ability to treat infections in the future.

Action needed at a global level

The increase in antibiotic resistance is a major concern that needs action at a global level. It is essential that antibiotics are used in the right way to slow down resistance, and this is what the guidance seeks to help health professionals do.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Many antibiotics are currently prescribed and used when they don’t need to be - meaning antibiotics lose their effectiveness at a rapidly increasing rate.

“This guidance will help ensure better use of antibiotics in hospitals and treatment tailored for individual patient needs.

“It is important we use antibiotics in the right way if we are to get the best outcome for the patient, slow down resistance and make sure these important medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and for future generations.”

The Department of Health has also published a range of European Antibiotic Awareness Day materials to support local activity and will also be screening a series of antibiotic awareness animated videos via the Life Channel in GP surgeries across the country to remind people to take care, not antibiotics for coughs and colds.