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Thursday 24th May 2018

Cut antibiotic use, doctors told

23rd July 2008

Doctors are being told not to prescribe antibiotics for common coughs and colds in a drive to help save millions of pounds every year for the NHS.


The ruling from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to doctors across England and Wales also comes at a time that the over-prescription of antibiotics has been linked to the development of "superbug" infections that resist treatment.

About a quarter of people in England and Wales go to the family doctor every year for symptoms of respiratory tract infection and figures show that doctors wrote 38 million prescriptions for antibiotics last year at a cost of £175m for the NHS. That accounts for 60% of the antibiotic prescribing by GPs.

NICE point out that many coughs and colds are caused by viruses and do not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Its new guidelines, which emphasise previous instructions to doctors not to prescribe for coughs and colds, suggest that GPs should not prescribe antibiotics immediately for conditions such as sore throats, sinus trouble or coughs.

However, the guidance does allow GPs to write a prescription for a patient for later use if their condition deteriorates.

NICE deputy chief executive Dr Gillian Leng said: "This is the first practical guideline which will help all healthcare professionals to assess adults and children with respiratory tract infections to decide whether their condition will improve by taking antibiotics.

"The guidance will also ensure that they can be followed up by the right people, at the right time and within the right healthcare setting."


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