For several years infection pharmacists all over the UK have led on local activities, initially for European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) and then World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) to raise awareness of the global issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
One of the most common activities, particularly in the secondary care setting, were information stands in areas with high footfall for both staff and patients. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it was clear that a different strategy was needed for WAAW activity: gathering around physical stands was no longer an option and infection pharmacists were overstretched so planning local campaigns was challenging.
It was more important than ever that there was a focus on raising awareness of AMR and promoting antimicrobial stewardship (AMS), but things needed to be done differently in 2020, and local teams needed support to promote WAAW. COVID-19 had led to high antimicrobial prescribing rates due to diagnostic uncertainty and concerns around bacterial co-infections.
A new strategy for 2021
The South Central Antibiotic Network (SCAN) started to consider options for WAAW. The Chair of SCAN, Louise Dunsmure, was invited to join the national planning group coordinated by Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency) and chaired by Diane Ashiru-Oredope. She subsequently led the development of resources that would be fit for purpose in a COVID-19 era.
A subgroup was formed, initially of hospital pharmacists, and then at the request of the national planning group, colleagues in primary care were invited. The group consisted of 12 members from all regions of England (see below).
A range of new digital resources have been created for colleagues to download and share during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week
The group decided that whilst it was important to provide short snippets of key information, it was also important to thank colleagues – taking learning from the ‘Thank you NHS’ campaign. A ready-to-use toolkit of digital resources was produced to provide guidance to support the NHS, local authorities and others to actively lead WAAW and EAAD activities and to encourage responsible use of antibiotics.
The resources were made available in adaptable forms so that institutions could personalise them. The group also developed a daily Twitter poll during WAAW, hosted on the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA) Infection Committee Twitter account.
Despite barriers introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, WAAW and EAAD continued to provide an excellent opportunity to engage with healthcare workers and the public on tackling AMR. In the second year, Fran Garraghan became the chair of the subgroup and membership for 2021 was extended to include the NHS England and NHS Improvement’s AMR National Pharmacy & Prescribing Clinical Lead and the regional AMS leads.
A range of new digital resources have been created for colleagues to download and share during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. These new resources follow five key themes for each day of WAAW 2021:
- Antibiotics in clinical practice: Antibiotic course length, empiric prescribing, intravenous-oral switch, promotion of current clinical guidelines
- Prevention: Linked to Infection Prevention & Control
- Antimicrobial resistance and the environment and/or research: Linking AMR with environmental considerations, such as disposal of antibiotics and environmental contamination.
- Diagnostics: Increasing understanding of established and innovative methods of detection of infection
- Antimicrobials and allergy: Including issues such as highlighting inaccurate penicillin allergy labels and safely de-labelling intolerances and non-severe reactions.
What can you do to support WAAW and EAAD in 2021?
The annual WAAW/EAAD/Antibiotic Guardian Resource toolkit for healthcare professionals is available for download here. We hope that this supports your planning activities ahead of WAAW.
The subgroup has developed a list of main actions for busy healthcare professionals with limited time:
- Planning your own virtual WAAW/EAAD Knowledge Café: The Knowledge Café format seeks to help surface the group’s collective knowledge, learn from each other, and share ideas and insights. This session was run in September 2021 and a recording can be found here.
- Register for ESPAUR report webinar on 19 November: An ESPAUR report webinar will be hosted by the UKHSA on Friday 19 November summarising key findings and information from the report and is aimed at healthcare professionals. Please register your attendance here as places are limited.
- Register your WAAW/EAAD activities via https://antibioticguardian.com/organisations/
- Organisational videos: Read the ‘quick guide’ to recording an organisational WAAW video and consider producing a video ahead of WAAW, sharing on organisational/personal social media channels.
- Social Media promotion/Twitter Storm: Use hashtags during the week to link to national (#AntibioticGuardian #KeepAntibioticsWorking) and global (#WAAW, #EAAD) health activities. A Twitter storm will run from 3-4pm (GMT) on Thursday 18 November and you are encouraged to focus AMS tweets in this hour (although activity throughout the week is encouraged also). A tweet card and example tweet text, as well as a downloadable calendar reminder can be found here.
- WAAW/EAAD teleconference backgrounds: Download and apply one of the custom WAAW/EAAD Teleconference backgrounds during (and beyond) WAAW. A special blue background has been created to align with the WHO ‘go blue for AMR’ campaign on 24 November.
If you have any queries about the awareness week or resources, contact the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, European Antibiotic Awareness Day and Antibiotic Guardian National Lead, Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope at email@example.com
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week national planning subgroup members
Karolina Arlukowicz, NHS Southampton CCG
Diane Ashiru-Oredope (Chair, WAAW national planning group), UK Health Security Agency
Elizabeth Beech, NHS E&I
Rashmeet Bhogal, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
Stuart Bond, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Claire Brandish, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
Jordan Charlesworth*, UK Health Security Agency
Gill Damant*, NHS E&I
Louise Dunsmore (Chair, 2020), Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Frances Garraghan (Chair, 2021), Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
Kieran Hand*, NHS E&I
Aoife Hendrick**, UK Health Security Agency
Philip Howard*, NHS E&I
Stephen Hughes, Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust
Fran Husson*, lay member
Conor Jamieson*, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHS E&I)
Preety Ramdut*, NHS E&I
Adel Sheikh, Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust
Andrew Taylor, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
Sue Wade, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust
*Members introduced in 2021
**Members active in 2020 only
- Fariha Razvi and Jasmine Sagoo: Specialists Pharmacists, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for assisting in the development of the 2020 WAAW sticky notes messages.
- Sarah Pritchard: Previously Campaigns and Digital Manager, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG for designing the 2020 sticky notes
- Laura Whitney: Regional AMS Lead, NHS England and Improvement, London for reviewing the article ahead of submission to Rx Magazine.