Fighting antimicrobial resistance

We’re fighting antimicrobial resistance by raising awareness of prevention and control, while supporting expert pharmacists and clinicians to reduce inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of micro-organisms to withstand antimicrobial treatments such as antibiotics. This resistance occurs as bacteria, for example, adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic, meaning the drug no longer works to fight the infection it was previously used to treat. The more an antibiotic is used, the more bacteria become resistant to it.

The consequences of AMR include increasing treatment failure for the most commonplace infections, such as urinary tract infections and decreasing the treatment options available where antibiotics are vital, such as during cancer treatment when patients are prone to infection.

National programme to combat overuse of antibiotics

The world’s largest healthcare incentive schem for hospitals, family doctors and other health service providers to prevent the growing problem of antibiotic resistance was launched last year. The programme offers hospitals incentive funding worth up to £150 million to support expert pharmacists and clinicians review and reduce inappropriate prescribing.

Clinical commissioning groups are being supported to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed in primary care by 4%, or to the average performance levels of 2013/14.

Providers will also receive payments for gathering and sharing evidence of antibiotic consumption, and review within 72 hours of the beginning of treatment.

Related content

  • Smart – Then Focus: the Department of Health’s guidance provides an outline of evidence-based antimicrobial stewardship in the secondary healthcare setting
  • TARGET: the Royal College of General Practitioners’ antibiotics toolkit for general practitioners
  • Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae: early detection, management and control toolkit for acute trusts