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Helping to improve understanding of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance

We are a key stakeholder in the implementation of the Government’s five year strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

The Government’s five year antimicrobial resistance strategy sets out our role in improving professional education and training about antimicrobial resistance. As well as recommending that the Government campaign internationally for greater recognition of antimicrobial resistance, the strategy outlined how we have a central role in helping to improve the knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance.

To achieve this, we are working to promote awareness of antimicrobial resistance, encourage those prescribing, dispensing and administrating antibiotics to do so responsibly and with an understanding of antimicrobial resistance, and ensure that it is included in the preventing, management and control of infection curricula for human medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry and other professionals.

We have been working with Public Health England to ensure that the competencies developed by the Government’s expert advisory committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection for all those prescribing of antimicrobials are embedded into relevant the curricula.

Undergraduate students have expressed interest in receiving more education about antimicrobials, especially about their multidisciplinary use, so these competences provide clarity for regulators, education providers and professional bodies on what competencies they should be incorporating, and should inform standards, guidance and the development of training. This would also help to improve professional education, training and public engagement to improve clinical practice and promote wider understanding of the need for more sustainable use of antimicrobials.

To begin this work, last year we asked higher education institutions about the extent to which these antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship competences have been embedded into their curricula. We also agreed that we needed to identify whether there are any gap areas in the educational resources that are available to support current prescribers with the prescribing of antimicrobials.

We have committed to work with stakeholders to explore the factors that help or hinder staff being able to access information and education on antimicrobial resistance and identify good practice materials for promotion.

The Health and Social Care Act (2008) states that employers should ensure that all their staff who prescribe medicines should be given induction and training in responsible antimicrobial use and are familiar with the antimicrobial resistance and stewardship competencies. However, according to the results of our survey, available below, not all employers and providers are currently delivering on this.

We asked those that train healthcare workers what works well in an educational environment, what the challenges are, and how we might support the education of prudent, responsible use of antimicrobials. The report available below, 'Tackling antimicrobial resistance – educational priorities' explores the perspectives about educational interventions that may help address antimicrobial resistance in different healthcare settings, as well as any barriers for implementation. 

Our latest report, available below, found that whilst a number of learning resources are already available for different professional groups around antimicrobial resistance and stewardship and infection prevention and control, most professional groups do not have formal assessment processes to support learning on antimicrobial resistance. We will now look at whether an individualised, online formative assessment is feasible. 

An introductory free e-learning module, Reducing Antimicrobial Resistance has been developed to support all health and social care staff understand the threats posed by antimicrobial resistance and ways they can help to tackle it.

We have evaluated the visibility and uptake of this module by individuals and organisations in the report An evaluation of our antimicrobial resistance introductory e-learning session, and national infection prevention and control training. The also makes recommendations on how organisations can enhance staff training using this module on antimicrobial resistance.

A short guide to learning resources on management of infective states, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship has been produced, signposting prescribers and other staff to available educational sessions that will help support their learning.

We’ve worked with Public Health England to develop two short introductory films about the risks associated with overusing antibiotics. The first film, a guide for GPs on antimicrobial resistance, supports a range of educational materials for GPs and other primary-care prescribers called the TARGET toolkit. This film also introduces a short informative but simple animation that can be used by GPs and other health professionals when speaking with patients about the risks of antibiotic resistance and misuse.

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