GPs in the NHS have dramatically reduced the number of antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily, slashing the volume of prescriptions down by over 2.6 million in one year alone under the global fight against antibiotic resistance.

According to NHS Improvement, the "huge effort" by GPs, pharmacists, commissioners and its Patient Safety Team has driven unnecessary antibiotic prescribing down 7.3 percent, far above the 1 percent target set for the NHS.

GPs have also managed to achieve a reduction of 16% for broad-spectrum antibiotics, that should be reserved for the treatment of serious infections only, equating to a reduction of 626,302 items.

Healthcare staff across the country should be congratulated for this "fantastic result", said NHS Improvement, noting that its Patient Safety Team "will continue to work with them and with our partners at Public Health England and NHS England to bring these figures down even further."

"At a time when the NHS has advanced in many areas of patient care, science and technology, we must work to prevent healthcare going backwards to time where antibiotics are no longer fighting infections," the group stressed.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the figures show that "healthcare professionals across the UK are taking our warnings about growing resistance to antibiotics, and its terrible consequences, seriously and are working hard to address them".

But also warning against complacency, she reiterated the responsibility of everyone "to curb this dangerous growing resistance to what are excellent and life-saving drugs when prescribed appropriately."

"Ultimately we need more investment in new drugs - we haven't seen a new strain of antibiotic in over 25 years - so that we do have an arsenal of medication that will be able to treat emerging and future diseases, and keep our patients safe".

"But this won't happen overnight and in the meantime, we need to continue to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness."