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Third of antibiotics prescribed by doctors are 'unaccounted for', warns Chief Medical Officer

MacaObioha 12 February 9

Previous research has indicated that 20 per cent of antibiotics prescribed by GPs are handed out inappropriately.

Dame Sally said that as well as feeling a need to validate a patient’s illness, GPs were too busy to accurately record how they have used the drugs, making it difficult for watchdogs to keep track of prescribing.

However, the NHS has made progress in recent years, with a 7.4 per cent reduction in the amount of antibiotics prescribed between 2014 and 2017.

The new strategy requires the health service to bring this down a further 15 per cent by 2024.

Part of its role is to “set an example” to other nations in the world to reduce their antibiotic use in medicine and agriculture.

While applauding a 40 per cent reduction in antibiotic use among parts of the UK farming sector, Dame Sally bemoaned a recent decision in the US which allows citrus fruit farmers to spray streptomycin on their crops.

She also pointed to the practice of injecting dates with antibiotics in the Middle East.

The new strategy aims for a further 25 per cent reduction in antibiotic use in food-producing animals in the UK by next year.

Part of the strategy to tackle AMR involves Government incentives for the development of new classes of antibiotics, of which none have come on stream for decades.

However, Dame Sally warned that policymakers would not work with pharmaceutical companies which paid bonuses to their sales staff for selling antibiotics in bulk, nor those who released antibiotic-contaminated waste into the environment, thereby prompting resistance.

“I don’t think this should be a free pass for companies that are behaving badly in other countries,” she said.

“If I have a say in it bonuses for sales staff are out, dirty effluent are out, and a good many other things.”

On Friday Dame Sally announced she would leave the post of Chief Medical Officer for England later this year to become the first female Master of Trinity College Cambridge.

However, she promised to continue fighting against AMR in her new role.