18 February 2016

RCGP Response to the Lancet Study on Antibiotics Prescribing

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “When used appropriately antibiotics are excellent drugs, but as a society we have become too dependent on them, resulting in growing global resistance to the bacteria that antibiotics have been so effective at fighting.

“GPs can come under huge pressure from patients to prescribe antibiotics, even when we know they are not the best course of action. Our patients need to realise that this is dangerous for each and every one of us, not just 'other people'.

“We all have a responsibility to curb growing global resistance to antibiotics. GPs and other prescribers are constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce inappropriate antibiotics prescribing right across the NHS – and beyond, in sectors such as agriculture – and we are open to explore initiatives to help with this.

“GPs already undertake regular prescribing reviews to see what they can do differently in the best interests of their patients. Reminder letters could be seen as an extension to this – or a prompt  - but it’s important that doctors who receive letters don’t feel overly-criticised as a result.

“There is nothing to say that doctors who prescribe the most antibiotics are doing so inappropriately; some doctors will prescribe more than others simply as a result of the demographics of their patients.

“Nevertheless, family doctors are open to feedback and welcome a reflective approach to prescribing – but what is really important is that we all work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness.

“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.

“It is also concerning that there hasn't been a new class of antibiotics produced in over 25 years, so we seriously need investment into research to develop new drugs that are effective at tackling existing and emerging diseases.

“But this won’t happen overnight and in the meantime we need to do everything we can to prevent patients and the public building up a resistance, so that antibiotics remain effective in the future when they might really need them.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575
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.