Limiting the amount of infections that happen is one of the most prevalent problems in elderly care, which is why it's important to choose a care home that has specialist skills in this area.
One of the main reasons why this can be such a problem with older people is that often they can become resistant to the antibiotic being used, meaning they may have to go on more than one type of tablet. This can make it frustrating and time-consuming for those taking a course of antibiotics.
However, a new scheme being launched by NHS England aims to tackle this problem and ensure that antibiotics are only prescribed when they are absolutely necessary.
The nationwide programme, which will go live in April, wants to encourage hospitals, family doctors and other health service providers to distribute these drugs more effectively, which will help limit the number of problems caused by resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is already a significant healthcare issue, but there is widespread concern that it could become much worse. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that around 50,000 deaths in Europe and the US each year are a result of antimicrobial-resistant infections.
A recent review suggested that if no action is taken, resistance could be linked to around 10 million deaths each year in the coming decades.
As well as the loss of life, infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria significantly increase the amount of time people have to stay in hospitals, driving up healthcare costs.
The new programme from NHS England will be the largest scheme of its kind and will use a variety of financial incentives to encourage hospitals and other providers to limit the amount of antibiotics that are being given to patients.
It will see up to £150 million being given to pharmacists to review and reduce inappropriate prescribing, while local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will also be able eligible for additional funding.
Any CCG with at least 300,000 people could be given up to £150,000 each year to help GP practices limit the overprescribing of antibiotics. They will be encouraged to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed in primary care by four per cent, while funding will be given to hospital trusts that are able to document and share any details of antibiotics being used within 72 hours of treatment starting.
This information will then be reviewed by commissioners and additional funding will be given for reducing the use of specific antibiotics often called 'broad spectrum'. These drugs should only be used when standard treatment has failed.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said: “The NHS, governments and industry all have key role to play in combating antimicrobial resistance which poses a catastrophic global threat. These measures will put the NHS at the forefront of meeting this challenge.”