7 December 2015

RCGP Response to BJGP Study on Antibiotics Prescribing

Dr Tim Ballard, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Patients want to feel as though they are taking something away from their GP appointment, especially as in many cases, they will have had to wait a long time to secure one – and family doctors are under pressure to prescribe accordingly.

“It’s concerning that patients associate a prescription for antibiotics with a satisfactory visit to their GP, particularly as we know that in many cases antibiotics are not appropriate forms of treatment and could actually do more harm than good, so it may be better not to prescribe.

“We all have a responsibility to curb this trend, and we need to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness. Family doctors will prescribe antibiotics where the evidence suggests that they are likely to help people get better more quickly, but patients need to know that if we do not prescribe antibiotics, we are not being mean, we are acting in the best interests of their health.

“It’s also frustrating that GP practices that are working hard to reduce inappropriate antibiotics prescribing in order to prevent diseases becoming resistant to them face falling patient satisfaction ratings. It truly is a case of being damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

“Public perception needs to change – our patients need to understand that when diseases become resistant to antibiotics, it means that antibiotics will cease to work and as it stands, we don't have an alternative.

“The RCGP has highlighted the challenge that we face through resistance to antibiotics and we have developed the TARGET antibiotics toolkit, with Public Health England, to support GPs in the appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.”

Further Information

Read the study in the British Journal of General Practice

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 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.