Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance

Further resources and information to support #EAAD  and #keepantibioticsworking 


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

Nursing has a key role in supporting efforts to reduce this threat as a central part of the healthcare 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.

Your chance to shape nursing activity on antimicrobial stewardship

Work with Cardiff University to explore the factors that influence nurse’s engagement in antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) activities (i.e. activities which promote the responsible use of antimicrobials and so prevents antimicrobial resistance

The rapid emergence and dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has highlighted multiple areas in which competencies in antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) activities (i.e. activities which promote the responsible use of antimicrobials and so prevents antimicrobial resistance). AMS by nurses can support response efforts. We are inviting all frontline, patient-facing nurses to complete a survey designed to explore the factors influencing nurses engagement in AMS activities.

If you would like to take part in this research please contact:

Professor Molly Courtenay, School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University (

Professor Courtenay will provide you with an information sheet and, be able to answer any queries you may have. If you are then keen to complete the survey, she will provide you with a link in order that you can do so.

Current RCN activity on AMR 

The nursing and midwifery contribution to antimicrobial stewardship

The RCN is proud to have contributed to the development of a new competency framework to support antimicrobial stewardship and is shaping its current and future activity around the 6 domains of practice. Led by Cardiff University the competencies provide a holistic approach to support education of nursing and other healthcare professionals on this most important topic. The 6 domains are:

  • Infection prevention and control
  • Antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance
  • The diagnosis of infection and use of antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial prescribing practice
  • Person centred care and
  • 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 the RCN is also currently engaged in the following:

  • Review of the 2014 RCN position on antimicrobial resistance and the role of the nurse - this document describes the RCN’s ambitions for strategic priorities in AMR and support needed for nurses to contribute effectively. An interim statement has been published to highlight RCN priorities for the prevention of infection to be considered in the updating of the UK AMR strategy.
  • Implementation of an innovative RCN IPC education module 
  • 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.

Previous activity

The RCN approach to AMR is to work to prevent a silo attitude to its association with infection prevention and control and to embed it within a range of RCN resources that support nursing practice in a variety of care settings.

  • Submission of written evidence as part of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee. Antimicrobial resistance Eleventh Report of Session 2017–19. Read the report here
  • Revision of the RCN guidance on catheter care led by the RCN Continence Forum to support UK wide ambitions to reduce blood stream infections caused by multi-resistant gram negative bacteria such as E. coli
  • Dissemination of evaluation of the RCN Systems leadership programme for antimicrobial stewardship at the Association of professionals in Infection Control (APIC) conference in the United States
  • Support for the One Health approach to AMR – through our membership of the Human and Animal Alliance the RCN has endorsed the video below which describes the impact of AMR to both humans and animals.

Beat the bugs

Page last updated - 11/02/2021