A group of senior medics are calling on the government to put public health at the heart of its farm antibiotic policies and to commit to banning preventative antibiotic treatments in livestock.
Presidents and leading spokespeople of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Surgeons the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal Society of Medicine are among those that have signed a letter to the secretaries of state for health and environment.
Other signatories include the editors-in-chief of the British Medical Journal and The Lancet.
Coordinated by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, the letter comes just weeks after the European Parliament voted almost unanimously for legislation that would ban preventative antibiotic treatments of healthy animals by 2022.
The Alliance said that although the government says it supports the legislation, it has repeatedly refused to endorse any ban on group prevention in the UK.
“If the government fails to implement a ban on group prevention, the UK will have some of the lowest regulatory standards in Europe and will be aligning itself with the US administration’s position, which is to strongly oppose the European ban,” said Cóilín Nunan, Scientific Advisor to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.
“This should raise alarm bells about the kind of post-Brexit trade deal the UK may agree with the US, where antibiotics are used in enormous quantities in livestock.”
Professor John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, added: “A future world where bugs are all resistant to antibiotics will return us to the dark days of ineffective healthcare and condemn many to early deaths. Animal health and human health must be equally protected to save our antibiotics – that is why we’re making this call on government.”
He added: “In the post-Brexit world, it will be even more vital that we increase our standards on antibiotics use by doctors and farmers, so that the UK is a world leader, saving our antibiotics to save lives in future.”