Study shows regional differences in antibiotics prescribing

Study shows regional differences in antibiotics prescribing

Trends in antibiotics prescribing vary considerably across different parts of England, a new study has revealed.

Antibiotic Research UK teamed up with database software provider Exasol and PR firm Bright Bee to publish the first public report revealing prescribing data by locality.

One of the key findings showed that there is a widening "deprivation gap", with the difference in prescribing between the least and most deprived areas of the country getting gradually bigger.

The disparity in prescribing between the top and bottom one per cent in terms of deprivation is now 20 per cent.

In the north, doctors prescribe 21 per cent more antibiotics than in Greater London, while the most deprived coastal towns in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Essex have the highest prescribing rates in the country.

GPs in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, which has been identified as the UK's most deprived area, prescribe almost twice as many antibiotics as the national average.

Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK, said: "Londoners and the Thames Valley region have the best access to healthcare and are also on average younger and healthier than the rest of the country.

"However, we would not expect to see such a large variation in prescriptions around the country."

Other findings showed that doctors prescribe 59 per cent more antibiotics in December than in August, even though a large number of illnesses treated with antibiotics are not seasonal.

Overall, there has been a decline in antibiotics prescribing amid growing concerns about bacterial resistance to these treatments. Prescriptions per head peaked in 2012, reaching a total of 3.8 million prescriptions to English patients, but have since declined by 5.6 per cent.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said this decrease shows that healthcare professionals are "taking our warnings seriously and working to address them".

"However, growing resistance to antibiotics continues to be a global threat and we can't be complacent," she added.