Our Secretary General, Steve Howard, reflects on the recent BSAVA Congress including the focused sessions that were delivered on AMR and AMS, as well as the unveiling of the antibiotic amnesty results from 2023 which is a key project that the RUMA CA&E Alliance manages.

Steve Howard, RUMA CA&E Secretary General:

RUMA CA&E was very active at BSAVA Congress last month leading a press conference to unveil the results of the Antibiotic Amnesty and by taking part in a number of AMS panel debates.

The Antibiotic Amnesty is a great example of just one of the many AMS initiatives underway across the CA&E sectors. Despite only being the second year of the campaign, there has been a significant uplift in the number of practices taking part as well as a big increase in the number of returned antibiotics. For me as the secretary General of RUMA CA&E, this speaks volumes and highlights a profession that is both collaborative and proactive when it comes to addressing AMR. We have been honored as an Alliance to lead this campaign and project manage it end to end, but the excellent results are absolutely down to the hard work that has been undertaken right across the profession to support the messaging and engage the pet owning public with the campaign and help educate them about AMR. That takes a lot of effort and, for a profession under so much pressure, highlights just how high a priority is being given to AMR.

The overall results are impressive. Here is a quick reminder:

You can read more about the amnesty here RUMA CA&E unveils results of the 2023 Antibiotic Amnesty at BSAVA Congress – RUMA CA&E (rumacae.org.uk) and we will be announcing plans for the 2024 campaign soon so keep an eye out on our social channels for updates.

Whilst at BSAVA we also took part in and Chaired numerous panel debates and discussions on drug stewardship. Our Treasurer and the Chief Executive of NOAH, Dawn Howard,  chaired the data session ‘Antibiotic prescribing: what does the data show? Fraser Broadfoot of the VMD talked through what the data is telling us and broadly, it’s a good news story with overall sales going down but there are some areas that need more attention. In dogs, antibiotic use has decreased year-on-year since 2016, except for between 2020 and 2021 when it increased. In cats, antibiotic use decreased between 2014 and 2015 but since then has shown a small but steady upward trend, with a decrease between 2021 and 2022. Whilst both dogs and cats saw a decrease in HP-CIA use between 2021 and 2022, the use of HP-CIAs in cats remains high accounting for 44% of overall use. Use of HP-CIAs in dogs was the lowest since 2014. Assessing data is vital in helping us to track usage and understand where there are more opportunities to make changes. That’s why RUMA CA&E will be holding another data roundtable later this year to further explore how we can both gather and interrogate usage data to help inform future decision-making around targets and measures.

Then RUMA CA&E both took part in and chaired a number of other Drug Stewardship sessions  including How long does a bacterial infection need to be treated? In which Fergus Allerton shared details about the new approach that is emerging in human medicine of ‘shorter is better’ course duration and he shared details about the current literature available (and its limitations) as well as new studies on antibiotic treatment duration.

One of the case study highlights from these sessions came from Dr Paul Stanley from Whitelodge Vets who shared details of the cat bite abscess audit his practice has undertaken which earned a coveted RCVSK Antimicrobial Stewardship Champions Award. They conducted a prospective audit to review antibiotic use in cat bite abscesses and successfully treated 86% of their patients without antibiotics without compromising patient welfare. 

The presentations for the day ended with a session focused on what the laboratories can offer clinicians and the importance of clinicians providing case information to laboratories to help practices prescribe more effectively.

Finally, I was honoured to round the day off chairing the final panel session ‘Medicines stewardship in small animals, what is the future?’ in which myself and the other panellists discussed the need for data to inform progress, but also determine what good looks like, and the fact that we have an opportunity to gather that data voluntarily at present. The session also covered hHow the UK is doing on the wider scale , the practical steps that can be taken, and how the globalisation of trade should help to secure availability of the medicines we need.

This all demonstrates a profession that is actively driving positive change to both understand and address AMR and is already well-advanced in deploying initiatives and strategies to continue to protect the efficacy of antibiotics.

It was amazing to see the fantastic attendance at these drug stewardship sessions and I would like to thank BSAVA for including this important topic in the programme. It makes me very proud to be part of a profession that is always looking to evolve and adapt for the benefit of animal, human and environmental welfare, and I look forward to sharing more news about RUMA CA&E’s activities as the year progesses.

My thanks go to everyone that took part in the BSAVA Drug Stewardship debates and to everyone that posed questions, and to the practices and organisations that supported the Antibiotic Amnesty. To learn more about RUMA CA&E’s work click here: RUMA CA&E (rumacae.org.uk)