GPs in England have “dramatically” reduced the amount of antibiotics they give to patients, latest figures show.
NHS Improvement says prescriptions for all types of antibiotic were down by more than 2.6 million on the previous year to about 34 million in 2015-16.
They say it is a “fantastic result” and shows doctors are being careful not to over-prescribe them.
It is part of a wider drive to stop harmful infections developing resistance to antibiotics.
In the UK, the largest chunk of antibiotic prescribing – 80% – occurs outside of hospital.
And half of these prescriptions are to treat chest infections.
Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections.
There is no point in giving them if the cause of illness is a virus, such as the flu.
The government has offered a financial incentive to get GPs to cut down on their prescribing.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) get a Quality Premium payment if family doctors hit the target.
Reducing unnecessary prescribing saves the NHS money in drug costs.
The figures show GPs have overshot the targets.
The target reduction for all types of antibiotic had been set at 1%, but the actual reduction was about 7%.
Prescriptions for broad-spectrum antibiotics – drugs that should be reserved for tackling the most serious, hard-to-treat bacterial infections – went down by 16%, from 3.9 million prescriptions in 2014-15 to 3.3 million the following year.
The target had been a 10% reduction.
Dr Mike Durkin, from NHS Improvement, said: “This [is a] fantastic result achieved in just one year.”
He said they would continue to work to bring the figures down further.
“Every year, too many people suffer and lose their lives due to antibiotic-resistant infections,” he said.
“At a time when the NHS has advanced in many areas of patient care, science and technology, we must work to prevent healthcare going backwards …read more
Source:: BBC UK