Infectious diseases are the largest cause of death and disease globally2. In England, they are a major cause of death in the very young, very old and people with chronic diseases (such as chronic bronchitis or cancer)3. They accounted for around 3.4 million (8%) of hospital bed days in England in 2010/114, and in the UK, 21% of all days lost at work (approximately 27 million days) were due to infectious diseases such as coughs, colds and flu5 .
Microbial resistance is increasing, but very few new antibiotics have been developed over the last 30 years. This means existing antibiotics are used to treat an increasing number of infections and infectious diseases.
The draft guideline includes steps that can be taken to help make people aware of the importance of using antibiotics correctly and the dangers associated with their overuse and misuse. It also includes measures to prevent and control infection that can stop people needing antibiotics or spreading infection to others.
- Interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic demand and use. These include providing information to the public on self-limiting conditions such as colds, flu and earache, that people often wrongly think require antibiotics.
- Advice in healthcare settings about self-limiting conditions, appropriate antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance. This includes giving people advice and written information about the consequences of overusing antimicrobials, how long their symptoms are likely to last with and without antimicrobials and how to manage their condition without them, including being aware of when they should ask again for medical advice.
- Highlighting that GPs or A&E should not be the first point of call for treatment and information for self-limiting conditions. Instead, people should be encouraged to use pharmacies and other reliable health resources such as NHS Choices.
- National and local information campaigns aimed at the general public to prevent infections occurring and stop them from spreading. These should include advice on why it’s important to wash hands (eg: cold and flu viruses can be transmitted on hands), when hands should be washed (such as after using the loo, before eating, before touching the eyes or mouth, and after touching an animal), and how hands should be washed.
Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Health and Social Care Director at NICE, said: “The over-use of antibiotics in the last 30 years has led to microbial resistance, and with so few new antibiotics being developed, this could result in once-treatable infections becoming fatal in years to come. This new draft guideline focuses on interventions to help change people’s behaviour, and reduce antimicrobial resistance. It also aims to increase awareness, to both the public and healthcare professionals, of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and the risks this could involve. ”
For further information, please contact the NICE press office on 0300 323 0142 / email@example.com or out of hours on 07775 583 813.
Notes to editors
- Antimicrobials are a group of medicines that kill or stop the growth of microorganisms and include antibiotics, antivirals, antiparasitics and antifungals.
- NICE public health guidance scope: Antimicrobial resistance: changing risk-related behaviours in the general population. /guidance/GID-PHG89/documents/antimicrobial-resistance-changing-riskrelated-behaviours-in-the-general-population-final-scope2
- Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer 2011: volume two. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/138331/CMO_Annual_Report_Volume_2_2011.pdf
- Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer 2011: volume one. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cmo-annual-report-2011-volume-one-on-the-state-of-the-public-s-health
- Sickness absence in the labour market, February 2014. Office for National Statistics. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/sickness-absence-in-the-labour-market/2014/index.html
About the guidance
- The new draft guideline will be available on the NICE website from Tuesday 8 September at: /guidance/indevelopment/gid-phg89
- The consultation for the draft NICE guideline will remain open until 20 October 2015. Comments will then be reviewed before the final guideline is published for NHS use early next year.
- This new draft guideline complements existing NICE guidelines on antimicrobial stewardship, published in August. See /guidance/ng15
- NICE guidelines cover health and care in England. Decisions on how they apply in other UK countries are made by ministers in the Welsh Government, Scottish Government, and Northern Ireland Executive.
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