The Government has renewed its ambition to tackle deadly antibiotic resistance in the UK.
The pledge includes the appointment of a global expert alongside the millions of capital funding for UK-led research, with outgoing chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, as UK special envoy on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
A total of £32 million has been committed to accelerate the UK’s work in the global fight against AMR, which ten leading research centres across the country will now use to explore new ways to inform prescribing and identify patterns of resistance.
Antibiotic resistance poses an “enormous risk to our NHS”, said public health minister, Seema Kennedy.
She continued, “we are already seeing the harmful effect resistant bugs can have on patient safety in our hospitals. It is vital that we retain the irreplaceable expertise of Professor Dame Sally Davies – an international expert in AMR – and continue to invest in research.
"This funding to prop up the facilities for novel ideas and technologies, supported by the continued leadership of Dame Sally, will play a vital role in helping us to tackle this threat."
The awarded funding will support the development of a state-of-the-art, virtual ‘open access’ centre that will link health outcomes and prescribing data. This technology, led by Public Health England, will then gather real-time patient data on resistant infections, helping clinicians to make more targeted choices about when to use antibiotics and cutting unnecessary prescriptions.
Public Health England will also use £5 million funding to develop a fully functional model ward, the first of its kind in the UK, to better understand how hospital facilities can be designed to improve infection control and reduce the transmission of antibiotic resistant infections. The transmission of AMR organisms from environmental reservoirs such as sinks, showers and taps is an increasing concern in the UK and globally.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs also commented that the commitment was “incredibly welcome”, saying that “antibiotic resistance is a society-wide issue, and many GPs still come under pressure from patients to prescribe them when they are not necessarily needed, so we hope part of the package of measures announced today will include new campaigns to encourage the public to not see these antibiotics as a ‘catch all’ for every illness.”
The announcement follows the Government’s vision and five-year national action plan, published earlier this year, setting out how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling AMR by 2040.