'Model ward' will help fight antimicrobial infection

Author: Mark Gould
'Model ward' will help fight antimicrobial infection

Public Health England (PHE) is to spend £5m to set up a fully functional “model ward”, the first of its kind in the UK, to better understand how hospital facilities can be designed to improve infection control and reduce the transmission of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The initiative is part of £32m funding announced last year to accelerate the UK’s work in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). 10 leading research centres across the country will now use the funding to explore new ways to inform prescribing and identify patterns of resistance.

The awarded funding will support the development of a state-of-the-art, virtual "open access" centre that will link health outcomes and prescribing data. This technology, led by PHE, will gather real-time patient data on resistant infections, helping clinicians to make more targeted choices about when to use antibiotics and cutting unnecessary prescriptions.

Other successful funds include £4.4m to Manchester University to test “individualised” approaches to antibiotic prescribing by bringing together patient care and clinical research, and £3.5m to the University of Liverpool to apply innovative genome sequencing to enable more personalised antibiotic prescribing.

Dr Susan Hopkins, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at PHE, said: "Innovation is critical to tackle the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance. With this investment we will be able to create the most sophisticated AMR data set globally, enhancing our ability to monitor AMR and design effective interventions to halt its rise. By increasing our laboratory capacity to study novel agents and the healthcare environment, we’ll be able to take bold steps to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them and improve care and outcomes for patients."

Meanwhile public health minister Seema Kennedy has confirmed the government will be retaining the world-leading expertise of outgoing chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, as UK special envoy on AMR. Dame Sally will be working across all sectors to deliver a “One Health” response to AMR, which includes health, agriculture and the environment.

Dame Sally played a critical role in putting AMR on the global agenda, driving forward the UK’s world-leading strategy and advising the UN in her role as co-convenor for the Interagency Coordination Group on AMR.

Dame Sally said: "AMR is a complex challenge which needs local, national and global action. The UK should be proud of its world-leading work on AMR. We have made tangible progress but it is essential we maintain momentum. I am honoured to have been asked to continue this vital work on behalf of the UK government.”