Veterinary sector joins forces with the NHS in industry first to pilot antibiotic amnesty - Veterinary Practice
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Veterinary sector joins forces with the NHS in industry first to pilot antibiotic amnesty

The veterinary sector is taking part in a campaign to encourage the public to return out of date and unused antibiotics to help tackle antimicrobial resistance

The veterinary profession is working with NHS England (Midlands) to launch a pioneering campaign of antibiotic amnesty that encourages the public to return out-of-date and unused antibiotics to help tackle the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The antibiotic amnesty is taking place during November 2022, overlapping with World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18 to 24 November).

During the amnesty, pet owners will be encouraged to return out-of-date and unused antibiotics for safe disposal.

Veterinary practices will also direct any human antibiotics to NHS pharmacies.

Fergus Allerton, AMR lead at veterinary group Linnaeus, is helping to coordinate the antibiotic amnesty on behalf of the veterinary sector. He said: “The veterinary profession has a responsibility to ensure judicious use of antimicrobials.

“AMR has been declared one of the top ten global public health threats by the World Health Organisation and all environmental contamination with antibiotics will only worsen this issue.

“With the veterinary sector collaborating with human health colleagues on this amnesty, we are adopting a One Health approach to support the welfare of people, pets and the planet.”

Veterinary groups taking part in the antibiotic amnesty comprise CVS Group, IVC Evidensia, Linnaeus and Vets4Pets. They are joined by the British Equine Veterinary Association, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, British Veterinary Association, Federation of Independent Veterinary Practices, National Office of Animal Health, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, RCVS Knowledge, Responsible Use of Medicines Alliance –Companion Animal and Equine (RUMA CA&E), Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Bella Moss Foundation.

Veterinary practices are encouraged to promote the campaign through reception posters, reminders by client care teams, updates on social media and website resources (all available online here and here).

An animated film communicating the central message of the antibiotic amnesty will be shared on social media and is available to all practices to use on their social media channels.

Pet owners will also be asked to complete a short survey on the RUMA CA&E website via a QR code. The survey intends to identify the reasons behind leftover antibiotic medications and to evaluate public understanding of AMR and antibiotic disposal. 

Last year, the NHS in the Midlands launched a regional antibiotic amnesty, with participating pharmacies encouraged to discuss appropriate antibiotic disposal with patients and collect leftover antibiotics.

This resulted in almost 8,000 amnesty-related conversations with patients and nearly 500 packs of antibiotics returned for safe disposal. 

Every participating veterinary practice will need to have a collection box available throughout November, with staff asked to record the number of returned packs and share their results with BSAVA via an online form.

All practices reporting back to BSAVA will be entered into a prize draw. The prizes include two practice registrations to BSAVA Congress, one registration to BEVA Congress, a year’s access to the BSAVA online manual collection for up to five people, an individual The Webinar Vet membership, the latest NOAH compendium and a BSAVA manual for five practices. 

From June 2023 it will be a regulatory requirement for all practices to actively take back medicines under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme at veterinary general practitioner level.

To take part in the antibiotic amnesty, please contact Fergus Allerton.

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