Nurse roles in antimicrobial stewardship: Lessons from public sectors models of acute care service delivery in the United Kingdom

Enrique Castro-Sánchez*, Mark Gilchrist, Raheelah Ahmad, Molly Courtenay, Jo Bosanquet, Alison H. Holmes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Health care services must engage all relevant healthcare workers, including nurses, in optimal antimicrobial use to address the global threat of drug-resistant infections. Reflecting upon the variety of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) nursing models already implemented in the UK could facilitate policymaking and decisions in other settings about context-sensitive, pragmatic nurse roles. Methods: We describe purposefully selected cases drawn from the UK network of public sector nurses in AMS exploring their characteristics, influence, relations with clinical and financial structures, and role content. Results: AMS nursing has been deployed in the UK within 'vertical', 'horizontal' or 'hybrid' models. The 'vertical' model refers to a novel, often unique consultant-type role ideally suited to transform organisational practice by legitimising nurse participation in antimicrobial decisions. Such organisational improvements may not be straightforward, though, due to scalability issues. The 'horizontal' model can foster coordinated efforts to increase optimal AMS behaviours in all nurses around a narrative of patient safety and quality. Such model may be unable to address tensions between the required institutional response to sepsis and the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Finally, the 'hybrid' model would increase AMS responsibilities for all nurses whilst allocating some expanded AMS skills to existing teams of specialists such as sepsis or vascular access nurses. This model can generate economies of scale, yet it may be threatened by a lack of clarity about a nurse-relevant vision. Conclusions: A variety of models articulating the participation of nurses in antimicrobial stewardship efforts have already been implemented in public sector organisations in the UK. The strengths and weaknesses of each model need considering before implementation in other settings and healthcare systems, including precise metrics of success and careful consideration of context-sensitive, resource dependent and pragmatic solutions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number162
    JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2019 The Author(s).


    • Antimicrobial stewardship
    • Implementation
    • Nursing
    • Service delivery


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