What is this guideline about and who is it for?

Purpose of this guideline

The purpose of this guideline is to provide good practice recommendations on systems and processes for the effective use of antimicrobials.

Audience for this guideline

  • Health and social care practitioners (a term used to define the wider care team of hospital staff [including microbiologists and infection control staff], community matrons and case managers, GPs, dentists, podiatrists, pharmacists and community nurses [including those staff working in out‑of‑hours services], domiciliary care workers and care home staff [registered nurses and social care practitioners working in care homes], social workers and case managers).

  • Organisations commissioning (for example, clinical commissioning groups or local authorities), providing or supporting the provision of care (for example, national or professional bodies, directors of public health, health and wellbeing boards, healthcare trusts and locum agencies).

  • Adults, young people and children (including neonates) using antimicrobials or those caring for these groups. This includes people and organisations involved with the prescribing and management of antimicrobials in health and social care settings.

  • The guideline may also be relevant to individual people and organisations delivering non‑NHS healthcare services, and to other devolved administrations.

It is anticipated that health and social care providers and commissioners of services will need to work together to ensure that patients benefit from the good practice recommendations in this guideline.

Scope of this guideline

The guideline covers the effective use of antimicrobials as part of all publicly funded health and social care commissioned or provided by NHS organisations, local authorities (in England), independent organisations or independent contractors.

The guideline may also be relevant to care delivered by non‑NHS healthcare services, and to other devolved administrations.

The guideline does not cover:

  • specific clinical conditions (although some evidence identified included patients with a specific infection such as community acquired pneumonia)

  • named medicines

  • public health awareness of antimicrobial resistance

  • research into new antimicrobials

  • immunisation and vaccination

  • antimicrobial household cleaning products

  • antimicrobial use in animals

  • hand hygiene, decolonisation and infection prevention and control measures

  • medicines adherence, except where there are specific issues for health and social care practitioners to address relating to antimicrobials

  • access to medicines, including local decision‑making for medicines not included on local formularies

  • medicines shortages, including supply issues and discontinued medicines

  • prescription charges

  • waste medicines.

All NICE guidelines are developed in accordance with the NICE equality scheme.