10th May 2023

NHS England has drawn up new plans for community pharmacists to be able to prescribe medication for patients presenting with common clinical conditions without the need to see a GP first. While BSAC welcomes the plan to fully utilise the clinical skills of pharmacists and reduce pressure on GP surgeries, they stress the need for ongoing surveillance to mitigate any potential overuse of antibiotics, which could increase the burden of antimicrobial resistance.

The new scheme, which follows on from similar, successful schemes in Scotland and Wales, will mean pharmacists are able to assess patients and prescribe medicines if clinically appropriate to treat seven common ailments. This includes the following infections: earache, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, infected insect bites and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.

The new scheme utilises Patient Group Directions, which are treatment protocols with strict inclusion and exclusion criteria, ensuring that medicines are only supplied to patients considered suitable for treatment without consulting a doctor.

With the World Health Organisation declaring AMR a top ten global health threat, BSAC notes the importance of evaluating the impact of changes in prescribing practice on antibiotic use and resistance, and looks forward to further information with regards to the use of diagnostics and surveillance to accurately assess for treatment and identify the impact these measures have on antimicrobial use.

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