Scottish Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Humans in 2015

Publication Date: 30 August 2016

Some improvements in antibiotic use but efforts to control resistance must continue

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and Information Services Division have today published a report on antibiotic use and resistance in Scotland during 2015.

This latest report shows that while work by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing is proving successful, continued efforts are required to further reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.

In 2015 the use of antibiotics in primary care was 2.4% lower than in 2014. This is a third consecutive annual reduction. However, the data from 2015 show there was a 3.5% increase in the use of antibiotics in hospitals from 2014.

What’s more, although the use of very broad spectrum antibiotics remained low overall, the report highlights a 6.9% increase in the use of carbapenems in hospitals during 2015. This is of particular concern given that carbapenems are one of the last resort antibiotics. It is therefore essential that carbapenems and other broad spectrum antibiotics are preserved as there will be fewer treatment options left if bacteria become resistant to them.

Dr Michael Lockhart, Consultant Medical Microbiologist for HPS said: “We know that overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics has led to a rise in resistant infections around the world. So it is encouraging to see that resistance has remained stable overall in Scotland in 2015.

“These data highlight the good work being done by health professionals in following guidelines which aim to improve antibiotic prescribing in Scotland. However, it is essential to preserve our remaining antibiotics and help prevent and control the spread of resistance.

“As the report details, SAPG continues to develop initiatives to support clinicians in improving prescribing of antibiotics across Scotland. In addition, HPS is working closely with the Scottish Government, UK and European partners on a number of initiatives including collecting information on antibiotic resistance and advising on good infection control and public health practices.

“We all have a part to play in controlling the risk of resistance and would urge the public to do their part by ensuring antibiotics are only used when necessary.”