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Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognised as a global health and economic threat that risks undermining commitments to achieving the UN Sustainability Goals (SDG). 

Here you can find out more about the RCN’s approach to AMR and the work we are doing to support nursing and health care professionals.

AMR places extreme pressure on the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections potentially returning modern medicine to a pre-antibiotic era.

AMR impacts on a range of infections caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Nursing has a key role in supporting efforts to reduce this threat as a central part of the health care and public health workforce. The work of the RCN is diverse to reflect the different ways in which nursing contributes within the UK and internationally to this global threat. 

Current RCN activity on AMR 

The nursing and midwifery contribution to antimicrobial stewardship (AMS)

We are proud to have contributed to the development of a competency framework to support antimicrobial stewardship and shape its current and future activity around the six domains of practice in association with higher education institutes (HEIs). Led by Cardiff University the competencies provide a holistic approach to support nurses and other health care professionals on this topic. The six domains are:

  • infection prevention and control
  • antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance
  • the diagnosis of infection and use of antibiotics
  • antimicrobial prescribing practice
  • person-centred care
  • interprofessional collaborative practice.

How to use the competencies

Although the competencies are aimed particularly at the education of students, they provide a structured approach to education to support those already working in the roles of link nurses/practitioners, ward/dept managers, GP practice IPC leads, infection control managers and nursing home IPC leads. Read more about the Antimicrobial stewardship competency framework competencies.

In addition to the strategic work described in the current work section, we are also engaged in the following:

  • Delivering the RCN IPC education programme, which uses the AMS competencies as a framework for learning.
  • Representing nursing and nurses as part of the UK Diagnostic collaborative.
  • Providing scientific advice to support the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) AMR contribution to policy development within the EU.
  • Membership of English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR).
  • Annual European Antibiotic Awareness day activity.
  • Participation in research led by the University of Waterloo on interventions to sustainably mitigate AMR in the future.

The RCN’s collaborate approach to AMR

Our approach to AMR is to work collaboratively to prevent silo policy development and to support the delivery of projects. Our close association with infection prevention and control allows us to embed AMR messaging and activities within a range of RCN resources that support nursing practice in a variety of care settings. Some examples of past and current activities include:

  • Delivering a one-day workshop on urinary tract infection diagnostics in support of the Longitude prize with NESTA.
  • Participation in research led by the University of Waterloo on interventions to sustainably mitigate AMR in the future (completed 2022).
  • Submission of written evidence as part of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee. Antimicrobial resistance Eleventh Report of Session 2017–19. 
  • Participation in a keynote panel with Dame Sally Davies UK Special envoy on AMR delivered by the Safer Healthcare and Biohazard Network (December 2023).
  • Participation in the Second International Summit on Antimicrobial stewardship (November 2023).
  • Review and contribution to the ESPAUR annual report (2023).
  • Collaboration with the University of Cardiff to undertake a survey on antimicrobial stewardship inclusion in NMC undergraduate curricula (ongoing).
  • Attendance at the House of Lords launch of the report on ‘Under delivery of antibiotics’.
  • Progression of RCN IPC work – for example on aseptic technique.

Page last updated - 25/01/2024