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Veterinary group achieves new antibiotic reduction milestone of 8.6% in the UK

IVC Evidensia has reported a new milestone figure of 8.6% during 2023, demonstrating that the group has reduced antibiotic use by almost a third in the last three years.


This new figure, it reports, represents both systemic and local antibiotic treatments and prescriptions in outpatient care, reported as a percentage of the total number of patient visits during 2023. It follows previous figures of 10.4% in 2022 and 11.8% in 2021.


The current statistics indicate that the UK is on track to hit a group target of 5% by 2030, which follows in the footsteps of other IVC Evidensia territories such as Sweden and Norway, who already have reached figures of 4.9% and 5.9% respectively.


Anna-Maria Andersson, group Infection Prevention & Control director, comments: “Our vast international network enables us to share relevant knowledge and best practice for reducing the use of antibiotics, learning from those countries who are already ahead of the curve and evolving our strategy to keep the percentage going in the right direction.


“The continued reduction in the UK will have far-reaching implications beyond educating clients about the global threat of antimicrobial resistance [AMR], ensuring that our group is actively addressing the problem and taking a responsible approach to the use of antibiotics in the future.”

To achieve this progress in reduction figures, IVC Evidensia has implemented a number of group-wide campaigns. Dedicated vets have been empowered as local leaders (known as antimicrobial stewards) and given bespoke training, support and all the necessary tools to be able to safely reduce antibiotics used in their practices.


In October 2023, an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Month was celebrated which raised awareness of the relationship between antibiotic use and hygiene where IPC ambassadors are the key players, championing excellent hygiene standards in their practices, “which is absolutely essential to underpin a reduction in antibiotic use”.


And during London Vet Show in November, a partnership with RUMA CA&E was launched where vet professionals were able to access a free AMR Social Media Toolkit via a QR code, with assets to help support both colleagues and clients in understanding the dangers of AMR.


One vet who has made a significant reduction is Angharad Thomas (pictured below), from Fivelands Veterinary Centre in the West Midlands, who made a practical change when it came to prescribing antibiotics in dentistry. This has led to a 17.8% reduction between 2022 and 2023: “Long dental treatments are a great time to chat to vet students, but one day, instead of quizzing them, I was trotting out my thoughts on the decision-making for the case when I reached post-operative drugs. Stopping here I asked, ‘What are you taught about this these days?’ I suppose I wasn’t surprised to hear that antibiotics didn’t feature.


“It was a lightbulb moment: why was I using post-operative antibiotics for my dental cases? I come from the generation of vets who were firmly taught never to give antibiotics to routine surgeries, so why was I continuing to use antibiotics in dentistry? All at once I felt terribly old and out-of-touch. I decided it was time for a change!


“Given that reducing antibiotic usage is now fairly well recognised by the general public, owners have appeared very supportive. A day three post-operative check provides reassurance that their pet is healing and allows us an opportunity to intervene if required.


“Being an ‘experienced’ vet can be a trade-off between textbook clinical decision-making and what we believe would work for our patients and their owners. Sometimes we need a paper or two to persuade us to change our ways, but here, going back to basic principles was enough for me.


“Twelve months later, after watching my cases for any mild complications and reflecting on whether such complications could be attributed to the lack of antibiotics, I am convinced that this change has had no negative effects on my patients.”

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