Veterinary sector and NHS join forces for pilot antibiotic amnesty in November
For the first time, the veterinary profession is working with NHS England (Midlands) to launch a pioneering campaign that encourages the public to return out-of-date and unused antibiotics to help tackle the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The antibiotic amnesty is taking place during November 2022, overlapping with World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18-24 November). During the amnesty, pet owners will be encouraged to return out-of-date and unused antibiotics for safe disposal. Veterinary practices will also direct any human antibiotics to NHS pharmacies.
Fergus Allerton, AMR lead at veterinary group Linnaeus, is helping coordinate the amnesty on behalf of the veterinary sector. He said:
“The veterinary profession has a responsibility to ensure judicious use of antimicrobials. AMR has been declared one of the top ten global public health threats by the World Health Organisation and all environmental contamination with antibiotics will only worsen this issue.
“With the veterinary sector collaborating with human health colleagues on this amnesty, we are adopting a One Health approach to support the welfare of people, pets and the planet. In doing so, we can jointly help to reduce the risk of AMR and preserve the efficacy of important antimicrobials long into the future.”
Veterinary groups taking part in the amnesty comprise CVS Group, IVC Evidensia, Linnaeus and Vets4Pets. They are joined by the BEVA, BSAVA, BVA, FIVP, NOAH, RCVS, RCVS Knowledge, RUMA CA&E, VMD and the Bella Moss Foundation.*
Veterinary practices are encouraged to promote the campaign through reception posters, reminders by client care teams, updates on social media and website resources (all available at https://rumacae.org.uk/vet-antibioticamnesty and https://knowledge.rcvs.org.uk/amr/antibiotic-amnesty). An animated film communicating the central message of the amnesty will be shared on social media and is available to all practices to use on their social media channels.
Pet owners will also be asked to complete a short survey on the RUMA CA&E website via a QR code and https://rumacae.org.uk/antibioticamnesty. The survey intends to identify the reasons behind leftover antibiotic medications and to evaluate public understanding of AMR and antibiotic disposal.
Last year, the NHS in the Midlands launched a regional antibiotic amnesty, with participating pharmacies encouraged to discuss appropriate antibiotic disposal with patients and collect leftover antibiotics. This resulted in almost 8,000 amnesty-related conversations with patients and nearly 500 packs of antibiotics returned for safe disposal.
Dr Conor Jamieson, Regional Antimicrobial Stewardship Lead, Midlands Region at NHS England, commented:
“Delivering a coordinated response across all types of healthcare provision will make a much bigger impact on addressing AMR. This One Health approach provides more opportunities to educate the public and encourage positive behaviour when disposing of antibiotics.”
Every participating veterinary practice will need to have a collection box available throughout November, with staff asked to record the number of returned packs and share their results with BSAVA via an online form (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VetABamnesty). All practices reporting back to BSAVA will be entered into a prize draw.
The prizes include two practice registrations to BSAVA Congress; one registration to BEVA Congress; a year’s access to the BSAVA online manual collection for up to five people; an individual The Webinar Vet membership; the latest NOAH compendium; and a BSAVA manual for five practices.
From June 2023 it will be a regulatory requirement for all practices to actively take back medicines under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme at veterinary general practitioner level.
To take part in the amnesty, please contact Fergus Allerton at