Unnecessary prescriptions 'are costing NHS more than 8MILLION a year'
Reducing unnecessary prescriptions could help battle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance

Scientists from Cardiff University found GPs were over-prescribing antibiotics

Scientists from Cardiff University found GPs were over-prescribing antibiotics, which could be tackled with training

Unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics could be costing GP practices as much as 8.4million a year, according to a new study.

Researchers from Cardiff University said doctors are dolling out 1.6million unnecessary prescriptions for common conditions such as acute coughs and sinusitis.

The team, led by Professor Chris Butler, carried out a two-year study in collaboration with 68 GP practices in Wales.

They offered GPs access to antibiotic prescribing and resistance data and advanced 'consulting skills' tools. These were designed to help them discuss evidence-based treatment options more effectively with patients.

The study revealed that practices who made use of the materials saw a 5.5 per cent reduction in antibiotics prescriptions compared to those that didn't. This worked out as a saving of 830 per year per practice.

If this reduction was replicated across the UK it could cut unnecessary prescriptions by 1.6 million a year, saving around 8.4million.

It could also help battle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

'Antibiotic resistance remains one of the most important public health issues of our time, with antibiotic prescribing driving up resistance,' said Prof Butler.

'As most antibiotics are prescribed in General Practice, safely reducing the number of unnecessary prescriptions is essential.'

The study, called the Stemming the Tide of Antimicrobial Resistance programme, revealed that patients at practices where prescriptions were reduced did not experience detectable increases in complications, hospital admissions or re-consultation rates.

Prof Butler added: 'Star's
achievement in reducing antibiotic prescribing is significant because it
has shown signs of success where other efforts such as public health
campaigns on antibiotic awareness have failed.'

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.