IVC Evidensia reports that in the UK, the percentage of its patient visits given systemic and local antibiotic treatments and prescriptions in outpatient care have reduced from 11.1% in 2021 to 8.6% in 2023, a reduction of nearly a third over the last three years. 

IVC says this means its UK practices are 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, which have already reached figures of 4.9% and 5.9% respectively.

To achieve this progress, IVC says it has implemented a number of initiatives:

  • 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, championing excellent hygiene standards in practice
  • 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, designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

IVC says there has been a concerted efforts by its vets to become more aware of their own attitudes towards antibiotics and to educate their clients about the dangers of AMR.

One such example is Angharad Thomas, a veterinary surgeon from Fivelands Veterinary Centre in the West Midlands, who managed to reduce the amount of antibiotics prescribed in dentistry by 17.8% between 2022 and 2023:

She said: “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 the 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.”


PS: Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vet nurses.