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A multidisciplinary research team from the Universities of Southampton, Bristol, University College London and University of Oxford have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research to undertake a 2.5 year study to explore antibiotic prescribing out of hours.

We are very excited to be working with out-of-hours service providers across the South and West of England to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing. In the UK, the NHS has invested in improvement through public health campaigns, clinical guidelines for treatment of common infections and local monitoring of numbers of antibiotics prescribed. This study takes a new approach in an under-researched setting and will make an important contribution in the drive to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing and tackle antimicrobial resistance.”
- Professor Geraldine Leydon and Dr Rebecca Barnes

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in primary care is of increasing national and global concern due to the increasing risk of antimicrobial resistance (when bacteria becomes resistant to treatments). Most research in primary care has so far focused on GP prescribing during usual surgery hours. However there is evidence that antibiotic prescribing is increasing out of hours. The study will explore how communication patterns between patients and out-of-hours practitioners, such as GPs, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics, influence antibiotic prescribing in cases of common infections. The research will be used to optimise communication training to guide healthcare practitioners in best prescribing practices. With the help of NHS patients and staff, the researchers aim to record 300 routine out of hours health care encounters, including telephone calls, primary care centre visits and home visits, in organisations serving over two million people across the South and West of England.

The work builds on previous research including the UNITE study which identified key barriers and enablers to optimal prescribing Out Of Hours. This study involves an exciting collaboration with colleagues across SPCR: Dr Catherine Woods, University of Southampton Dr Fiona Stevenson, University College London Dr Gail Hayward, Oxford University Dr Mathew Booker, Bristol University Dr Beth Stuart, University of Southampton Dr Karen Postle, PPI Prof. Michael Moore, University of Southampton Prof. Paul Little, University of Southampton Prof. Sue Latter, University of Southampton Together with two organisations providing OOH services