Trust becomes first in UK to achieve BSAC antimicrobial stewardship accreditation

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has become the first UK healthcare organisation to be accredited by Global Antimicrobial Stewardship Accreditation Scheme (GAMSAS), in recognition of our commitment to using antibiotics wisely and preventing antimicrobial resistance.

The scheme is run by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), who have also designated the Trust as a Centre of Excellence to support wider antimicrobial stewardship networks. The Trust has been accredited alongside two other organisations, who all together are the first three organisations to be accredited in the world: 

  • Norton Healthcare Foundation, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  • Shiekh Khalifa Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, UAE

The BSAC scheme sets standards for antimicrobial stewardship programmes. This is a collection of activities that support safe and effective use of antibiotics which helps keep antimicrobial resistance at bay. 

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global health threat. It occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines that once could treat them effectively. It can lead to longer, more expensive hospital stays, increased risk of death, and the spread of infections to others. 

Antimicrobial stewardship is a key strategy for preventing and controlling antimicrobial resistance. It involves a range of interventions, such as:

  • prioritising and promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials
  • developing and implementing guidelines for antimicrobial prescribing
  • educating healthcare professionals, patients and the public about antimicrobial resistance and appropriate use of antimicrobials 
  • monitoring antimicrobial use and resistance
  • ensuring we continue to incorporate diagnostic stewardship into our clinical practice 
  • undertaking research into key antimicrobials themes.

BSAC GAMSAS accreditation provides a framework for organisations to develop and implement effective and sustainable AMS programs, and it helps to ensure that these programs are meeting high standards of quality.

Antimicrobial resistance is also a key research area for the Trust, with Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance being one of the 14 themes of the new five-year NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre contract. 

Mark Gilchrist, consultant pharmacist infectious diseases and head of antimicrobial stewardship at Imperial College Healthcare, as well as an honorary senior clinical lecturer at Imperial College London, said: "The Trust being recognised as a global leader in Antimicrobial Stewardship is a huge honour - to be one of three internationally and the first in the UK is amazing. 

"Credit goes to all staff, patients and partners, including Imperial College London who continue to support and provide us with innovative ways to use antimicrobials responsibly.

"Within the Trust, approximately 40% of our inpatients are on antimicrobials at any one time and the threat of antimicrobial resistance is bigger than it has ever been. Our programme through its five portfolios of work using an awareness, education and feedback approach has helped to spread the message that we need to protect our antimicrobials.”

Dr David Jenkins, president of BSAC, said: “Antimicrobial stewardship is a collection of evidence-based tools that helps keep antimicrobial resistance at bay. Antimicrobial stewardship ensures best treatment for infected patients now and keeps antibiotics working for future patients. Accreditation is another evidence-based discipline that measures and drives up quality of healthcare.”