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RPS: Minor ailments key to tackling antimicrobial resistance

RPS president Ash Soni says a national service could allow pharmacists to tackle health problems before antibiotics are needed

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has renewed its calls for a national pharmacy minor ailments service in response to public health guidelines on combatting antimicrobial resistance.

A national service could allow pharmacists to “proactively” reduce antibiotics prescriptions by “tackling health problems before they are needed”, RPS president Ash Soni said yesterday (August 18).  

Mr Soni made the comments in response to guidance on antimicrobial resistance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) on Monday (August 17). The public health body urged pharmacists, doctors and nurses to work together to “promote and monitor the sensible use of antimicrobials” to patients.

This could be achieved by sharing “consistent messages” about antimicrobial use and referring patients between health services "without raising expectations that antimicrobials will subsequently be prescribed”, Nice said. Pharmacists should also be involved in updating and implementing local antimicrobial guidance based on local prescribing patterns.

Nice recommended that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and hospitals form their own “antimicrobial stewardship teams”, including at least one antimicrobial pharmacist. These teams could work with prescribers to explore reasons behind very high, increasing or very low volumes of antibiotic prescriptions, Nice said.

A consistent approach

Mr Soni called for “increased support” for GPs - the most common prescribers of antibiotics - from other community health professionals “so we are all taking the same approach to prevent antibiotic overuse”. Antimicrobial resistance is “one of the most serious threats facing public health today”, he stressed.

“All prescribers need to be vigilant and ensure all treatment options have been considered before antibiotics are prescribed,” Mr Soni said.

Pharmacists are “already playing their part at the point of dispensing in educating and advising patients about how to take antibiotics correctly”, he added.

Last month, PSNC revealed that NHS England had shut down negotiations to commission a national minor ailments service over disagreements about “price, specification and service model”.


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