Helping to improve understanding of antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial resistanceWe are a key stakeholder in the implementation of the Government’s five year strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
The Government’s five year antimicrobial resistance strategy sets out our role in improving professional education and training about antimicrobial resistance. As well as recommending that the Government campaign internationally for greater recognition of antimicrobial resistance, the strategy outlined how we have a central role in helping to improve the knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance.
To achieve this, we are working to promote awareness of antimicrobial resistance, encourage those prescribing, dispensing and administrating antibiotics to do so responsibly and with an understanding of antimicrobial resistance, and ensure that it is included in the preventing, management and control of infection curricula for human medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry and other professionals.
We have been working jointly with Public Health England to ensure that the competencies developed by the Government’s expert advisory committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection for all those prescribing of antimicrobials are embedded into relevant the curricula. Undergraduate students have expressed interest in receiving more education about antimicrobials, especially about their multidisciplinary use, so these competences provide clarity for regulators, education providers and professional bodies on what competencies they should be incorporating, and should inform standards, guidance and the development of training. Implementing them will also help to improve professional education, training and public engagement to improve clinical practice and promote wider understanding of the need for more sustainable use of antimicrobials.
To begin this work, last year we asked higher education institutions about the extent to which these antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship competences have been embedded into their curricula. We also agreed that we needed to identify whether there are any gap areas in the educational resources that are available to support current prescribers with the prescribing of antimicrobials.
The Health and Social Care Act (2008) states that employers should ensure that all their staff who prescribe medicines should be given induction and training in responsible antimicrobial use and are familiar with the antimicrobial resistance and stewardship competencies. However, according to the results of our survey, available below, not all employers and providers are currently delivering on this.
The report, 'Combating antimicrobial resistance: educational approaches for the responsible prescribing of antimicrobials', outlines the outcomes of the work focussed on current prescribers. It also provides recommendations for further action, to us and partners, including:
- employers and healthcare providers should consider the role of an antimicrobial resistance education strategy that sets out the training requirements for staff based on national recommendations, and also includes monitoring and reporting arrangements.
- employers and healthcare providers should ensure that antimicrobial resistance awareness is included as part of mandatory infection prevention and control training targeted for all staff on induction and at every update. Staff should be encouraged to sign up as antibiotic guardians during these sessions.
- employers and healthcare providers should consider organising targeted awareness training sessions for management and executive teams, for example, senior clinicians and clinical directors on antimicrobial resistance leadership and training.
The recommendations directed at HEE will be taken forward over the coming months. These include the creation of an educational package for management and executive teams and improving information sharing about existing educational resources. We will also work with practice educators and others to better understand what types of educational interventions are likely to lead to changes in behaviour in relation to the prescribing of antibiotics.
An introductory free e-learning module, Reducing Antimicrobial Resistance has been developed to support all health and social care staff understand the threats posed by antimicrobial resistance and ways they can help to tackle it.
We have evaluated the visibility and uptake of this module by individuals and organisations in the report An evaluation of our antimicrobial resistance introductory e-learning session, and national infection prevention and control training. The also makes recommendations on how organisations can enhance staff training using this module on antimicrobial resistance.
A short guide to learning resources on management of infective states, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship has been produced, signposting prescribers and other staff to available educational sessions that will help support their learning.
We’ve worked with Public Health England to develop two short introductory films about the risks associated with overusing antibiotics. The first film, a guide for GPs on antimicrobial resistance, supports a range of educational materials for GPs and other primary-care prescribers called the TARGET toolkit. This film also introduces a short informative but simple animation that can be used by GPs and other health professionals when speaking with patients about the risks of antibiotic resistance and misuse.