High antibiotic use at Sunbury

A new study has revealed Sunbury residents are among the nation’s highest users of antibiotic medicines.

The Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, the first comprehensive report on the way health care varies across the nation, found postcode 3429 had the highest antibiotic prescription rate in the state, with 62,472 prescriptions per 100,000 people in June 2013.

The rate in the Macedon Ranges was significantly lower, at 33,408 prescriptions per 100,000 people.

The report said Australia had high overall rates of antibiotic use compared to some countries, dispensing more than 30 million prescriptions in 2013-14.

Melbourne Primary Care Network chief executive Associate Professor Chris Carter said the report’s findings would be useful in ongoing discussions with stakeholders from across Melbourne’s north and west.

Associate Professor Carter said it was important that people feeling unwell didn’t go to the GP expecting antibiotics when these ‘‘may not be the best or appropriate treatment for their condition’’.

‘‘High community use increases the risk that bacteria will become resistant to these medicines, and they will cease to be effective against serious, life-threatening conditions,’’ the report stated.

It called for primary health networks to investigate unwarranted variations.