Opinion Former Article

Patients must be integral to Jim O’Neill’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

MRSA Action UK welcomes progress on Jim O’Neill’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, and the proposals to overhaul the global antibiotics pipeline over the next ten years. We are aware that there are further strategies included in the review that will be further developed.

The review recognises a skills shortage in microbiology and infectious disease doctors. But complacency and reliance on antimicrobials and the belief that science will come to our rescue has, we believe, also led to a fall in standards in clinical practice in the decades that saw a development in antibiotics.

Our over-use in farming and even in domestic products coinciding with a gap in new discovery has contributed to this crisis.

Prevention is the name of game for healthcare associated infections, and that's why MRSA Action UK are repeatedly asking for healthcare providers to adopt a zero tolerance approach to avoidable healthcare associated infections with competency based training for anyone involved in clinical care.

There is a culture shift towards more attention on the prevention of healthcare associated infections, but we need to get smarter with understanding the microbiology that is proving an enormous challenge to healthcare.

We must get better as measuring performance. We know that invasive devices are particularly risky for vulnerable patients, and where catheters have to be used then this is where skilled aseptic techniques need to be used. Device use should be measured - as with anything, if you don't measure you can't manage.

Similarly publishing antibiotic usage both in the hospital and GP practice setting can help understand and identify over-use.

Smarter technologies to identify the bacteria that are causing infections are needed, so that antibiotics can be prescribed appropriately.

We need better data. Death certification should include healthcare associated infections and the micro-organism involved whether this was the main cause of death or a contributory factor.

Staff to patient ratio needs to be right, staff need the time to give safe clinical care.

Patients and the public need to be equal partners in understanding what is needed and this of course means not expecting antibiotics for more minor ailments and viruses that won't respond to antibiotics. Hand hygiene is a great preventer of the spread of infection, both in and out of the healthcare setting. And this cannot be over emphasised. This is why we have campaigned for education and information for the public.

We would like to see public and patient involvement in the development of the strategies to tackle antimicrobial resistance and would welcome the opportunity to be involved. Patients must be an integral part of the review, particularly those who rely on antibiotics.

The 5-year fund proposed for the review is welcome, but we have to be clear where we go after that. We agree that political leadership is needed at a global level. The governance of the task cannot be underestimated. Health authorities will need the means to deliver and regulate the interventions that are needed.

The microbes’ evolution is continuous, many interventions are needed, and we have to stay ahead of the game if we are to avoid going back to the pre-antibiotic era.

Derek Butler
MRSA Action UK
Registered Charity No.1115672
website: http://mrsaactionuk.net
email: derek.j.butler@mrsaactionuk.net
telephone: 07762 741114

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