The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has joined forces with Wolverhampton CCG, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Public Health team and NHS England in a bid to increase local awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers in the city.

One of the key objectives of the joint action group is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

The Wolverhampton wide group is called Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme (ASP) and they want the public and prescribers to recognise that antibiotics are a precious resource and should be preserved. They should be used to treat bacterial infections, only when prescribed by a certified health professional. Antibiotics should never be shared and the full course of treatment should be completed - not saved for the future.

Antimicrobial resistance a real and growing threat to humanity and this threat is now recognised globally. It is widely acknowledged that a large proportion of prescribed antibiotics are either unnecessary, incorrectly selected or incorrectly prescribed.

There are many reasons for this including:

  • lack of knowledge of the prescriber
  • ‚Äčlimitations of the diagnostic tools available at the time of dispensing
  • defensive prescribing
  • time pressures on prescribers
  • poor documentation of prescribing decisions, making informed review decisions difficult
  • lack of awareness of the short and long term risks of antimicrobial prescribing
  • availability and relative low direct drug costs of most antimicrobials
  • competing priorities such as 'Surviving Sepsis' and reducing sexually transmitted diseases

The scope of the ASP includes all human health care and focuses on shifting the behaviours of the public, patients, prescribers and staff. They are also taking this opportunity to try to influence non medical use of antimicrobials in animals and more specifically food production as antimicrobial drugs are currently used to promote growth and productivity.

A Programme Board has been set up including all the partner organisations and Health Watch. David Loughton, Chief Executive of RWT, is chairing the Board alongside his colleagues Ros Jervis, Director Public Health and Helen Hibbs, Accountable Officer, Wolverhampton CCG.

Mr Loughton said "This is a really, really important issue because the ticking time bomb of antimicrobial resistance will affect all of us. Changing behaviours towards antibiotics will be difficult and will take time because we need to educate a lot of people but, by working together across Wolverhampton, we can make a real difference locally."

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic, and so they are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate.

"It's therefore really important that people use antibiotics in the right way - the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Doing this will help to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance and make sure these life saving medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves our children and grandchildren."

Dr Kiran Patel, Medical Director for NHS England (West Midlands) said: "We know that resistance to antibiotics is a major concern to people's health and welfare.  It is vital that we take action now to build on the work that has already taken place to tackle the overuse and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics.  This will help to make sure that we can continue to deliver health care services that help to protect our patients against serious infections now and in the future."

  • released: Friday 30 September, 2016