Antibiotic use continues to fall but pandemic ‘has had huge impact’

The figure is one of the key findings in the Scottish One Health Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance in 2020 Report.  

Antibiotic use continues to fall but pandemic ‘has had huge impact’ iStock
Antibiotics: Use continues to fall in Scotland.

A new report has revealed that the total use of antibiotics in humans in Scotland has fallen by 17.1% in the last five years.

The figure is one of the key findings made by Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection in their Scottish One Health Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance in 2020 Report.  

Another finding was that antibiotic use in primary care has decreased by 20.9% since 2016. 

The NHS say the reduction in antibiotic use reflects the combined efforts of health professionals working together with the public to ensure antibiotics are only prescribed when necessary. 

This limits the opportunity for infections to develop resistance to treatment. 

However, the report also found that antibiotic use in hospitals continues to rise, up by 2.3% since 2016. 

William Malcolm, clinical lead for the Scottish One Health Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance programme, ARHAI Scotland, said: “Antibiotics remain at the centre of healthcare delivery in the 21st century and we cannot take them for granted. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on healthcare delivery and on citizens across Scotland.

“Improving antibiotic use and reducing the threat from antimicrobial resistance is crucial through and beyond the pandemic. 

“The pandemic has led to changes in the way healthcare has been delivered and changes in the way antibiotics have been used. 

“Tackling antimicrobial resistance, which could be thought of as a slow burning pandemic, is still vital if we are to keep antibiotics working in the future. We urge professionals in all settings, whether in human health or animal health to continue to optimise antibiotic use in all settings.” 

The report outlines that while antimicrobial resistance in humans is generally stable in Scotland, resistance has increased across some bacteria.  

Adopting a One Health approach that encompasses antibiotic use and resistance in humans, animals, environment and food; and the interactions between them is required to tackle AMR effectively.  

This report reiterates the importance of human and animal health professionals continuing to work together to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.  

ARHAI Scotland will continue to develop this ‘One Health’ approach and will work with stakeholders to contain and control Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).