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Nurses have key role in tackling antimicrobial resistance, says RCN

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It is essential that the influence of nurses in combating antimicrobial resistance is recognised, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

In a position paper published last week, it said nurses had a “significant role to play” in limiting the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. Nursing staff are present in every health setting, making their contributions key to local, national, and international initiatives, the college noted.

“Nursing staff have a key role to play in limiting antimicrobial resistance through their leadership and skills”

Rose Gallagher

Among the recommendations set out in the paper, the college called on nurses working in primary care and the community to help cut demand for antibiotics by encouraging patients to live healthy lifestyles and to influence their expectations of prescribing during every day interactions.

Where antibiotics were prescribed, it called for processes relevant to nursing to be “clearly communicated, implemented and monitored”. For example, ensuring prescription charts were correctly completed with drug, stop date and intravenous to oral switch information.

In addition, it recommended that the national curriculum for pre-registration nursing programmes should include antimicrobial resistance.

The RCN also urged clinical commissioning groups to ensure they supported and listened to their specialist infection prevention and control nurses.

Overall, it said a national strategy on improving infection prevention and control measures in healthcare was needed for preserving the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs.

Rose Gallagher

Rose Gallagher

Rose Gallagher, RCN adviser for infection prevention and control, added: “Nursing staff have a key role to play in limiting antimicrobial resistance through their leadership and skills supporting infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, and public health.”

In July the prime minister launched a review into the development of antimicrobial drugs and warned that the world would be “cast back into the dark ages of medicine” unless swift action was taken to tackle the threat of resistance. 

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