Addressing antimicrobial resistance by implementing an antimicrobial stewardship programme

A stage two resource alert has been issued to all providers of NHS care in England to highlight the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need for antimicrobial stewardship.

Inappropriate use of antimicrobials has been a key driver in AMR, which has risen alarmingly over the last 40 years. From 2010 to 2013, total antibiotic prescribing in England increased by 6%, comprised of a 4% rise in general practice and a 12% increase in hospital inpatient prescribing.

The joint patient safety alert signposts NHS organisations to the TARGET (Treat Antibiotics Responsibly, Guidance, Education, Tools) and Antimicrobial Stewardship: Start Smart then Focus toolkits. The toolkits have been developed by Public Health England (PHE) in collaboration with several professional bodies to support the NHS in improving antimicrobial stewardship in both primary and secondary care. Through the alert health providers are asked to specifically identify how the toolkits can be used to support their own local antimicrobial stewardship programmes.

The consequences of AMR include increased treatment failure for common infections and decreased treatment options where antibiotics are vital, such as during certain cancer treatments. Antimicrobial stewardship is key to combating AMR and is an important element of the UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.

Patient safety alerts are shared rapidly with healthcare providers via the Central Alerting System (CAS).

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