Plan to stop antibiotics being overprescribed

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DOCTORS in Hampshire have put plans in place to ensure they do not overprescribe antibiotics.

Local GPs have said guidelines were not clear about when the drugs should be given to patients, and that on some occasions they felt pressured into giving them out.

It comes after concerns that over-prescribing antibiotics helps bacteria become increasingly resistant, making the drugs ineffective.

Dr Tim Wilkinson, partner at the Derby Road Group Practice, in Portsmouth, said: ‘There have been occasions when I have felt pressurised into prescribing antibiotics.

‘But the more likely scenario is patients are pleased when I inform them they do not require antibiotics.

‘We have worked hard in Portsmouth over a number of years to make sure the quality of GP prescribing is constantly improving and reflects the latest evidence.’

It comes as a national survey by the Longitude Prize found 90 per cent of the 1,004 GPs surveyed felt pressured into prescribing antibiotics.

In the south central area, which includes south east Hampshire, 51 per cent of the 65 doctors asked – 33 GPs – felt pressured into prescribing the drugs.

Dr Andrew Whittamore, partner at the Portsdown Group Practice, said: ‘Antibiotic prescribing is something that largely comes down to judgement – there are very few quick ways of working out who has a viral and who has a bacterial infection.

‘We’ve done some work here around antibiotic prescribing a few years back.

‘After auditing all the GPs’ antibiotic prescribing and agreeing where our prescribing differed, we managed to reduce everyone’s antibiotic prescribing because we all knew we were giving the same messages to patients.

‘We learnt that our clinical judgement was being undermined by the feeling that others would give antibiotics earlier.

‘By consistently giving the same messages, our patients seemed to change, too – rather than coming in and asking for antibiotics, they came to check that they didn’t need antibiotics.’

Dr Mo Wai is a GP at the Kingston Crescent Practice, in Portsmouth. He said: ‘We run regular audits at the practice to ensure we are prescribing appropriately.’