BSAC responds to UK Government’s 5-year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy today welcomed publication of the Government’s five year antimicrobial resistance strategy that seeks to address the issues currently facing doctors treating bacterial infections, particularly those caused by Gram-negative bacteria.   Dr Nicholas Brown, BSAC President and Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge said: “We welcome publication of the strategy.  It provides a much needed framework through which government can take responsibility for, and initiate steps to protect, the few antibiotics we have that remain effective against resistant bacteria, and through which encouragement of appropriate use of antibiotics across all sectors can be affected.”

In speaking about the three strategic aims of the strategy, Professor Laura Piddock, Director of Antibiotic Action and Professor of Microbiology, University of Birmingham said “The government’s aims are laudable and, if delivered, will address the challenges posed by antibacterial drug resistance by improving knowledge amongst healthcare professionals and the general public so that current treatments are preserved and used appropriately, and by providing an environment for new research to understand resistance and for the development of new treatments for bacterial infections.”  She continued “Especially encouraging is government’s intention to ensure this UK-wide strategy is the responsibility of both the Department of Health and Defra, acknowledging the multi-sectorial approach required for successful implementation”

Welcoming plaudits accepted, significant effort will be required, and actions plans needed that include provision/mechanisms for:

  • The education of healthcare professionals so that they have a good understanding of antibiotic resistance and best practices in the use of antibacterial drugs via the involvement of royal colleges and local deaneries in setting and delivering under- and postgraduate curricula
  • Identification of significant new funding to deliver the breadth and depth of knowledge required to tackle and resolve the problem of antibacterial drug resistance.
  • Engagement with the general public to educate and increase understanding about antibiotic resistance, not only from medical use but also about how the widespread use in domestic and industrial settings of antibacterial molecules contributes to antibiotic resistance.

Such action will require collaborative approaches whereby government and health departments work with, and alongside, professional societies such as BSAC, extending the current advisory roles into practical working relationships wherever possible.

Already actively working in many of the areas identified in the 2013 AMR strategy, BSAC will support its delivery and encourages the use of the strategy as an opportunity and catalyst for swift and decisive action.  Society initiatives such as Antibiotic Action already engage professional and public audiences and will continue to do so and the BSAC National Point Prevalence Survey System will collect longitudinal data on antimicrobial consumption in UK hospital settings, extending on the Society’s role in coordinating collection and submission of ambulatory data to ECDC. BSAC is also the Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics, Chaired by the Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed, MP offering cross-party parliamentarians a forum in which they can hear evidence, contribute to debate and identify solutions that the UK can offer to the Grand Challenge of antibiotic resistance and further support delivery of the 2013 AMR strategy.

  • To access a copy of the full commentary by Director of Antibiotic Action, Professor Laura Piddockclick here.