15 November 2012

RCGP TARGETs Antibiotics Prescribing

The RCGP has launched a toolkit containing new guidance for GPs and their patients on the appropriate prescription of antibiotics.

The guidance provides a simple, effective, and cost-effective approach to the treatment of common infections to minimise the emergence of bacterial resistance in the community.

It is launched as part of a TARGET toolkit (Treat Antibiotics Responsibly, Guidance and Education Tool) available on the RCGP website at http://www.rcgp.org.uk/TARGETantibiotics from today, and has been produced in partnership with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Antimicrobial Stewardship in Primary Care Group (ASPIC).

Its launch coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day taking place on 18 November 2012.

The work is part of the RCGP’s Antimicrobial Stewardship clinical priority programme and the partnership working has helped to ensure a variety of health professionals have contributed to the resource including, microbiologists, clinicians, GPs, pharmacists, guidance developers and other stakeholders.

As well as antibiotics management guidance, the TARGET toolkit also comprises:

  • Clinical resources - including posters and links to useful web pages
  • Patient resources - including leaflets and a self-management form
  • Parent resources - a set of information leaflets for parents including the ‘When should I worry’ booklet
  • Audit report template for throat infection

Dr Michael Moore, RCGP Clinical Champion for Antimicrobial Stewardship, said: “The toolkit is aimed at working GPs to give them the means to assess their current practice and to focus on ways to reduce antibiotic prescribing in situations where the evidence shows they are of little or no benefit. We will be adding to the toolkit over time as more evidence comes available.

“I don’t see antimicrobial stewardship as a one-off activity but as something to be worked on over time. We hope that practices will pick up on antibiotic awareness and integrate this into their service development programme over the coming years perhaps focussing on a different clinical condition each year “.

Dr Cliodna McNulty, the HPA’s head of primary care, said:

“This is a comprehensive toolkit that will provide GPs with a range of information and patient resources to help them prescribe antibiotics responsibly. Doctors are faced daily with patients who expect antibiotics for uncomplicated infections that will usually get better on their own. Patients consult because their symptoms are prolonged painful or they are worried they are severe.

“The resources in the TARGET antibiotics toolkit include an antibiotic information leaflet to share with patients during the consultation. This will help patient understanding about the usual length of coughs colds and sore throats and flu and give them advice about self-care and when they need to return to the surgery if they’re symptoms worsen.

“Although there has been a fall in the prescribing of certain groups of antibiotics like cephalosporins and quinolones, overall antibiotic use has increased and antibiotic resistance continues to rise. So we should only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed so helping to reduce the risk of resistance emerging and extending the life span of the antibiotics we have.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


Self-assessment questionnaires to help both GP surgeries and PCTs/CCGs test their fitness and competence as well as to benchmark against national and local results, will also be added to the toolkit in the next few weeks.

The TARGET toolkit will be updated periodically and be subject to further development including the addition of new resources. Professionals, patients and carers are welcome to provide feedback so that we can improve the resource. Please send any comments to CIRC@rcgp.org.uk

For more information on RCGP CIRCs Clinical Priority programme please visit www.rcgp.org.uk/circ

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 46,000 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.