Last year GPs were ordered to prescribe less antibiotics to avoid being penalised. NHS Improvement have found a decrease of prescriptions for all types of antibiotic by more than 2.6 million from the previous year. They say it is a “fantastic result” and shows doctors are being careful not to over-prescribe them.

The target reduction for all types of antibiotic had been set at 1%, but the actual reduction was about 7%.

Dr Mike Durkin, from NHS Improvement, said: “This [is a] fantastic result achieved in just one year.”

Dr Maureen Baker, of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Doctors faced pressure from patients to prescribe antibiotics, but that it was their duty to say no sometimes.”

A report commissioned by the UK government has warned that resistance to antibiotics could lead to the deaths of ten million people a year globally by 2050.

The research, which the BBC described as “hugely influential”, was led by economist Jim O’Neill who said that unless the world acts soon medicine could be “cast back into the dark ages”.

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