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Target Antibiotics Toolkit

Volume 612: debated on Tuesday 5 July 2016

2. What assessment his Department has made of the uptake of the Target antibiotics toolkit among NHS commissioners and GPs. (905654)

Continuing with the same important theme, it is excellent to see Parliament taking such a close interest in antibiotic resistance. In England, 60% of clinical commissioning groups reported reviewing the Target toolkit, which has been designed to help GPs in particular, in a primary care survey in November 2014. A patient safety alert went to providers and commissioners in 2015, highlighting the importance of programmes such as Target. The House might be interested to know that the Target programme gives GPs help in understanding how to deal with the pressure from patients, because a lot of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing comes from the pressure from patients to walk away with an antibiotic script. Work is being done, but we know that we have more to do.

I thank the Minister for her reply. Disappointingly, the most recent data show Bolton to be one of the highest prescribers of antimicrobial agents in Greater Manchester, and it is in the highest quartile nationally. Although Bolton CCG has seen reductions in antibiotic prescribing following guidance given to GPs, when will the Target antibiotics toolkit be fully implemented across all CCGs in England?

Public Health England is doing a huge amount of work on this. There has been a very welcome drop in prescribing in the last year and that appears in the data available for this year. That gives us encouragement. Of course, 79% of antibiotic prescribing occurs outside hospital, so my hon. Friend is right to highlight general practices. I draw his attention to Public Health England’s Fingertips portal, which allows both providers and commissioners to assess how they are doing compared with other areas locally. That is allowing us to see where we have particular problems. It varies around the country and Public Health England is leading the action being taken in that regard.

The growth of antibiotic resistance is a massive problem worldwide, as the Minister knows. No new antibiotics have been classified for more than 25 years. This is a real problem, as antibiotic resistance increases. What are the Government doing to address the issue?

As I have said, it was our Prime Minister who commissioned the independent O’Neill review, showing astonishing foresight, and that review is now galvanising the discussion. I was at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May, and the review was the talk of Geneva. Lord O’Neill presented it to many delegations from around the world and we now need to move forward. As well as working on human health, we are also looking to work with animal health organisations, as we take forward the very important recommendations on prescribing and the use of antibiotics as growth stimulators.