Boots will carry out an audit of the care homes it supports to uncover the issues around antimicrobial resistance and the role community pharmacists can play in tackling the problem.

The four-week audit will coincide with World Antibiotic Awareness Week which started yesterday. Boots said the results, which are expected early next year, “will be used to improve the care pharmacists can provide to patients and care home staff in the guardianship of antibiotics.”

Boots’ chief pharmacist Marc Donovan said: “Antibiotics are useful in a wide variety of infections but there is a high level of misunderstanding amongst the public over their correct use. As they only treat bacterial infections, antibiotics will not treat viruses like flu and the common cold.

“Due to overuse and misuse, antibiotics are in danger of losing their effectiveness and so we hope that our amnesty will reduce the incorrect use of antibiotics and encourage our customers to think twice before taking them.

“We hope that the audit in our care homes division will evidence the important role our community pharmacists play in delivering this agenda right the way through the link from service to supply and ongoing monitoring.”

Boots said it would encourage its pharmacists to talk to patients about using antibiotics effectively and try to get customers to bring in unwanted and unused antibiotics “as part of an amnesty being co-ordinated by Imperial College London.”