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New study to help improve antibiotic prescribing in out-of-hours services

25 May 2018

A multidisciplinary research team from the Universities of Bristol, Southampton, Oxford and University College London have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research to undertake a study to explore antibiotic prescribing out of hours.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in primary care is of increasing national and global concern due to the increasing risk of antimicrobial resistance (when bacteria becomes resistant to treatments). Most research in primary care has so far focused on GP prescribing during usual surgery hours. However there is evidence that antibiotic prescribing is increasing out of hours.

The study will explore how communication patterns between patients and out-of-hours practitioners, such as GPs, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics, influence antibiotic prescribing in cases of common infections. The research will be used to optimise communication training to guide healthcare practitioners in best prescribing practices.

With the help of NHS patients and staff, the researchers aim to record 300 routine out of hours health care encounters, including telephone calls, primary care centre visits and home visits, in organisations serving over two million people across the South and West of England.

Dr Rebecca Barnes from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol and Professor Geraldine Leydon from the University of Southampton who are leading the study said:

“We are very excited to be working with out-of-hours service providers across the South and West of England to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing. In the UK, the NHS has invested in improvement through public health campaigns, clinical guidelines for treatment of common infections and local monitoring of numbers of antibiotics prescribed. This study takes a new approach in an under-researched setting and will make an important contribution in the drive to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing and tackle antimicrobial resistance.”

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol.

About the National Institute for Health Research 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

  • funds high quality research to improve health
  • trains and supports health researchers
  • provides world-class research facilities
  • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website

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