Infographic: Antibiotic prescribing 'decreasing faster than ever'

Analysis of GP prescribing data from August 2010 to August 2016 reveals significant improvement in antibiotic prescribing practice over the past year, but persistent regional variation in prescribing rates across the country.

GP practices in the most deprived areas of the country are still prescribing significantly more antibiotics than the average, the analysis shows.

Tendring—a district in Essex known for high deprivation and an elderly population—is the highest prescribing district in the country, prescribing 40% more antibiotics than the average. Of the 326 districts in England, 37 still noted an increase in antibiotic prescribing over the past year.

However, Rochdale in Greater Manchester, Halton in Cheshire, and Wakefield in West Yorkshire, which ranked in the top ten highest prescribing in 2014-2015, all showed double-digit percentage decreases in antibiotic prescribing over the past year. Overall, 14 districts reduced their prescribing by more than 10%.

"We see the findings as hugely encouraging, a combination of a reduction in prescribing as well as reduced seasonal variation seems to indicate the message is getting through to GP surgeries and we applaud their work in reducing antibiotic prescribing," said Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK.

"Growing resistance to antibiotics is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face globally and it's fantastic to see that GPs and our teams continue to play a huge part in curbing this dangerous trend," added Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP.

She cautioned that regional variation in prescribing and its link to deprivation "is not altogether surprising and is not necessarily indicative of inappropriate prescribing", but can also be influenced by factors such as the prevalence of long-term conditions in a population.

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