All NHS staff, but particularly those with prescribing powers, should be offered more training in the responsible use of antibiotics, according to Health Education England.
The government arm’s length body said it was calling on employers and healthcare providers to do more to make sure their staff were well-trained in how to “combat antimicrobial resistance”.
“It is crucial that prescribers have the right knowledge and skills”
It highlighted that 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, not all employers and service providers were currently delivering on these requirements, according to findings from an HEE survey, published today in a report.
The results in the report – titled Combating antimicrobial resistance: educational approaches for the responsible prescribing of antimicrobials – covered trusts and clinical commissioning groups.
It found only half of the 72 organisations responding to the survey provided training on the mandatory core requirements for “prudent” antibiotic use, in addition to introductory sessions during inductions, to all prescribers, including those who were nurses.
But only 28% extended such training to cover all clinical staff, regardless of their prescribing powers, and just 14% provided it to all their nurses.
In addition, less than half were able to confirm that their prescribers were familiar with or provided training that covered the antimicrobial resistance and stewardship competencies from Public Health England and the Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Prescribing, Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection.
In response, Health Education England has asked all employers and providers to ensure that mandatory training in prudent antibiotic use is provided to all prescribers as part of their induction and ongoing continuing personal development, as outlined in the national guidance.
Employers and healthcare providers are also encouraged to implement mandatory staff training policies for combating antimicrobial resistance in areas, where there is poor compliance with local antibiotic policies and national guidance.
In addition, the report recommended that employers should consider introducing an antimicrobial resistance education strategy that set out the training requirements for staff based on national recommendations, and also included monitoring and reporting arrangements.
They should also ensure that antimicrobial resistance awareness was included as part of mandatory infection prevention and control training targeted for all staff on induction and at every update. Staff should be encouraged to sign up as “antibiotic guardians” during these sessions.
Lastly, they should consider organising targeted awareness training sessions for management, for example, senior clinicians and clinical directors on antimicrobial resistance leadership and training.
More training on antibiotics urged for nurse prescribers
Meanwhile, HEE itself said it would create an educational package for management and executive teams, and improve information sharing about existing educational resources.
It would also work with practice educators and others to better understand the types of educational interventions likely to lead to changes in behaviour in relation to the prescribing of antibiotics.
Ged Byrne, director of education and quality at HEE North, said “Although antimicrobial resistance cannot be eliminated, we can work together to limit its risk to the public and minimise its impact.
“As part of this, it is crucial that prescribers have the right knowledge and skills, to ensure that prescribing interventions are safe and that they deliver the best outcomes for their patients,” he said.
“We ask employers to take note of this report and take forward actions to place more training to ensure their staff are well-trained in how to combat antimicrobial resistance,” said Mr Byrne.
He added: “This report is an important milestone in achieving this goal, and we look forward to taking the recommendations forward, to help manage and reduce the risks of antimicrobial resistance.”