“We have seen positive steps taken to reduce antibiotic use without affecting people’s recovery when they are unwell and GPs should be congratulated in their ongoing work to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use,” Dr Hopkins said.
“We want the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only taking antibiotics when necessary,” she added.
“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them is not a harmless act – it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health, now and in the future.”
The report found no evidence that GPs prescribing fewer antibiotics had led to more people being admitted to hospital with serious infections.
‘More to be done’
Antibiotic prescriptions dispensed in the community went down by 16.7% (from 750 to 624 per 1,000 inhabitants per year) between 2014 and 2018.
There were reductions in all age groups, but particularly in the under-65s.
Dental antibiotic prescriptions dispensed in the community have gone down by more than 25% in the last five years.
Last year, E. coli was the commonest cause of bloodstream infection in England.
Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said: “The decrease in consumption of antibiotics is good news but the rise in resistant infections shows the threat is increasing and so there is more to be done.
“Antibiotic resistance is not just a matter for clinicians – the public also have a crucial role to play in helping to preserve these vital medicines.”