27 February 2019

Striking the Balance on Antibiotics Prescribing 'Extremely Challenging', Says RCGP

Responding to two papers published in the BMJ on antibiotics prescribing, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "GPs are in an incredibly difficult position when it comes to antibiotics prescribing. We are under huge pressure not to prescribe - and publicly vilified when we are deemed to do so too readily - yet, we know that in some cases antibiotics are a matter of life or death.

"Getting the balance right every time is extremely challenging. GPs in the UK are doing an excellent job of reducing antibiotics prescribing overall - but our priority will always be the patient in our consultation room, and we will prescribe based on the unique combination of factors potentially affecting that patient's health at that time. This extends to the length of time we prescribe antibiotics for, in accordance with local guidance, and we would urge patients to take the full course of medication, as recommended by their doctor.

"Where sepsis is concerned, its early symptoms are often very similar to other, more common and less serious conditions. Access to rapid definitive tests in our consulting rooms, to clarify whether infections are viral or bacterial would certainly help in some cases.

"Growing resistance to antibiotics is a huge threat globally, and it's essential we all - not just GPs and other healthcare professionals - work to curb it, by realising they are not a cure-all for every illness. But antibiotics are also important, life-saving drugs and it's vital that doctors are not deterred from using them when they think it's appropriate to do so.

"The College has worked with partners, Public Health England and Health Education England to develop resources for GPs and other healthcare professionals both to support them to prescribe antibiotics appropriately, and to identify sepsis."

Further Information
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 765

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.