Large difference in antibiotic prescribing between summer and winter months and between different areas of Yorkshire

Novel research from Antibiotic Research UK and Exasol AG demonstrates antibiotic prescribing trends in Yorkshire

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Antibiotic Research UK, the York based national charity fighting superbugs, in collaboration with Exasol AG has analysed GP antibiotic prescribing data in Yorkshire. Key findings were:

  • Average Yorkshire prescriptions per head are slightly above the average for all of England (Yorkshire = 0.6442 and England = 0.6052 – Yorkshire is 6% higher)
  • There was wide variability in antibiotic prescribing across the County with York doctors prescribing almost 65% fewer antibiotic prescriptions compared with Scarborough and Wakefield
  • Doctors prescribe 63% more antibiotics in December than they do in August in Yorkshire, despite the fact that illnesses treated by antibiotics are not seasonal.
  • There were a few Yorkshire hot spots for antibiotic prescribing such as North Wakefield and central Kingston upon Hull.

New research by Antibiotic Research UK, the world’s first charity created to develop new antibiotics in the fight against superbugs, and high-performance analytic database company EXASOL has discovered that while antibiotic prescriptions are coming down across Yorkshire, GP Practices in Scarborough and Wakefield are prescribing nearly twice as many antibiotic prescriptions as the lowest in the County, York.

Antibiotic Research UK and EXASOL analysed data released by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre and sourced from the NHS Business Services Authority. The data runs over 5 years from August 2010 to July 2015 and contains 602 million rows of data. The data was analysed by a data scientist working for EXASOL, using its high performance in-memory analytic database. The data reveals antibiotic prescribing hotspots and interesting correlations against areas of deprivation and age. The data is grouped by Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOA).

Sean Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer, EXASOL says: “When analysing the data we are seeing a wide gap in antibiotic prescriptions across Yorkshire with York prescribing 65% fewer antibiotic prescriptions compared with Scarborough and Wakefield.”

Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK Says: “These results are very surprising but some of the data seems to reflect that seen in other parts of England. For example Scarborough seems to mirror the high prescribing pattern seen in many seaside towns across England. Clacton-on-Sea in Essex has the highest level of prescribing in England”.

The data also highlighted seasonal variation in prescription levels with 63% more prescriptions in December than in August with no logical reason. Professor Colin Garner of Antibiotic Research UK says: “It is true that colds and flus sometimes lead to bacterial infections due to suppressed immune systems and so we would expect a minor increase in antibiotic prescription in the winter months, however the data shows us a 63% jump in four months and this is far too high. The only explanation is that antibiotics are being overprescribed in the winter when patients demand them. Focus group surveys have shown that 97% of patients who demand antibiotics from their GP get them. Professor Colin Garner says “This is unacceptable. The public should not be demanding antibiotics from their doctors and doctors should not be prescribing them. Public Health England is engaged in a large educational campaign to persuade the public not to demand antibiotics since many winter infections are virus related where antibiotics have no action”.

Antibiotic prescribing heat map for Yorkshire – August 2014

Antibiotic prescribing heat map for Yorkshire – December 2014

Professor Garner says: “An increased resistance by bacteria to antibiotics could change surgery as we know it today. As a consequence, new hips, knees, organ transplantation and many cancer treatments will become high risk. It is estimated that there are 400,000 cases of reported antibiotic resistant infections with 25,000 deaths each year in the European Union; in the UK the figure is close to 5,000 deaths per year. 35,000 people die each year from sepsis of which a proportion can be directly linked to infection with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Even a simple scratch can kill without effective antibiotics.”

Sean Jackson, CMO, EXASOL says: “Awareness of antibiotics overuse is critical. As an analytic database provider, we firmly believe in the power of data analytics in helping unlock valuable insights that can address any problem or issue. With the right data and the right technology, you can turn any problem into a data problem and uncover information to help address it. We worked with Antibiotic Research UK to find information that is useful in their quest to reduce antibiotic use and find new antibiotics in the fight against the superbug. To analyse such enormous data-sets fast requires the right tool and we hope the findings help to further reduce this serious issue.”


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About Antibiotic Research UK

A charity registered in England and Wales; Number 1157884

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Antibiotic Research UK

ANTRUK, Charity

Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK) is a recently formed (mid-2014) charity which has as its mission 1) to educate the public and professionals about antibiotic resistance 2) to develop new antibiotic therapies and 3) to provide patient support to those affected by antibiotic resistant infections. The charity will commence its first research programme on Antibiotic Resistance Breakers in the first half of 2016. For more information please visit our website.

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