Earlier this year the Chief Medical Officer set out the scale of the antimicrobial resistance issue and its implications for public health in her annual report. This also detailed the need for urgent action at a national and international level to slow down and stem the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
Experts at PHE have been actively engaged with combating the problem of antibiotic resistance for several years since it emerged as a healthcare issue. This includes efforts to ensure appropriate knowledge and information through surveillance; provision of genetic typing of pathogens in PHE’s reference laboratory; and provision of extensive guidance and support on optimal infection prevention and control practices.
In partnership with other organisations PHE experts also contribute to the development of guidelines on how healthcare professionals can manage infections in patients caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics and how to stop their spread to others.
This new strategy focusses on 7 key areas for action. PHE will be responsible to lead the implementation of 4 key areas across the human health and social care sector. These are outlined below.
Improving infection prevention and control practices to reduce the number of infections in patients. Key achievements will be: moving to a position where good infection prevention and control is the norm in all sectors; reduction of healthcare associated infections (which are often caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics).
Optimising prescribing practice. Key achievements will be: timely diagnostics to guide health professionals to prescribe the right antibiotic for the right infection at the right time; a reduction in the use of antibiotics of ‘last resort’.
Improving professional education, training and public engagement. Key achievements will be: improved guidance and training for prescribing clinicians; improved public understanding about appropriate antibiotic prescribing.
Enabling better access to and use of surveillance data. Key achievements will be: timely access to prescribing and antibiotic resistance data in the primary and secondary care to shape guidelines and training of prescribers.
PHE will have a key role in implementing the strategy by bringing together all relevant partners from across the health and social care sector.
Professor Anthony Kessel, Director of Public Health Strategy at PHE, said:
Antibiotic resistance is a natural and inevitable phenomenon that arises from the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Tackling antibiotic resistance will require a consorted effort by government, industry, doctors, vets and the public.
Although we cannot eliminate antibiotic resistance we can improve our antibiotic stewardship and, infection prevention and control practices, as well as developing better diagnostic tests so that infections are treated with the most appropriate antibiotic.
PHE will have a major role in delivering the new strategy and we will be working very closely with our colleagues across the health and social care sector to deliver it. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time and we need to ensure that everything that can be done to mitigate its effect is acted upon as a matter of priority.
Notes to editors
Read the CMO’s UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.
PHE has established a new national programme, the English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR), to develop and maintain robust information and surveillance systems to measure antimicrobial utilisation and its impact on resistance and patient safety in England.
The other 3 areas of the strategy that make up the 7 points are as follows:
- Developing new drugs, treatments and diagnostics – through better collaboration between research councils, academia, industry and others; and by encouraging greater public-private investment in the discovery and development of a sustainable supply of effective new antimicrobials, rapid diagnostics and complementary tools for use in health, social care and veterinary systems.
- Better identification and prioritisation of research – to focus our activity and inform our understanding of AMR, this may identify alternative treatments to new drugs as well as new or improved rapid or point-of-care diagnostic tests for humans and animals.
- Strengthened international collaboration – working with and through a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations, international regulatory bodies and others to influence opinion, galvanise support and mobilise action to deliver the scale of change needed globally.
More information on antimicrobial resistance
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