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Bugs Away: Anti Microbial Resistance in the 21st Century

How the work of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) and its educational workstream is making good progress



Over the last century the development and use of antibiotics has revolutionised our ability to treat infections, however, as antibiotics have developed so have resistant organisms.

This means that antibiotics are increasingly losing their effectiveness. The more an antibiotic is used, the more bacteria become resistant to it. Current overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals has led to an increase in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to the major public health issue we are now facing.

On the whole, general knowledge of AMR is poor and is often thought of as a problem in the hospital setting. Political interest and recent campaigns have helped to raise awareness of the challenges and the profile of good antibiotic stewardship, but we still have more to do and it is down to all of us to act now.

Whose problem?

Through the work of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) great progress has been made in appropriate and responsible prescribing, administering management and monitoring of antibiotic use. There is better recognition of the issues and good stewardship is on the increase. However, it is still apparent that generally there is a real lack of knowledge about the seriousness of the problem.

The way to tackle the issue is to ensure that we all take responsibility; good stewardship and awareness is everyone's business, not just those who prescribe.
Many infections are treated by the prescription of antibiotics when they don't need to be. Antibiotics cannot treat viral infections such as coughs, colds and flu. To slow down AMR it is important for us all to use, manage, administer and monitor antibiotics appropriately. 

Investment in AMR Education for Healthcare Staff

We need to invest in a whole systems approach - that means we recognise, value and enable everyone in the team to play their part.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) supports SAPG by leading its educational workstream to ensure education on antibiotics is available for all healthcare professionals throughout Scotland.

We offer a range of learning resources and materials across the health professions and disciplines from resources to use at induction of new staff right through to supporting those who are well established in their roles.

Our materials range from short online courses to more in-depth case studies of people with infections.

There is a lot of educational material available but we still need to work to encourage staff to use it and to use the resources appropriate for their role. We are helping to support implementation of learning at a national and local level and look to build capability and capacity in the service to help tackle this very serious problem.

Check out our resources at:

Watch our video on antimicrobial resistance and stewardship to find out why antibiotic resistance is becoming a global public health issue and what resources NES have to help support healthcare staff in antimicrobial prescribing, administering and monitoring.

Authors: Dr Gill Walker, Programme Director, HAI, NES and
Ms Arlene Brailey, Assistant Director, Pharmacy, NES.
For more information contact