Our history

Our History

The National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS) was established in 2015 as part of an NH&MRC Centre for Research Excellence grant. The NCAS team incorporates chief investigators from the University of Melbourne, Monash University and The Royal Melbourne Hospital. We also have associate investigators, collaborators and advisors from groups including Barwon Health, Southern Health, Eastern Health, Bayside Health, as well as the Victorian Healthcare associated infection surveillance service (VICNISS), the New South Wales Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) and clinical advisors from Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, including specialists in regional and remote health and paediatrics. Our chief investigators represent hospital doctors, general practitioners, pharmacists, veterinarians and microbiologists working in food and agriculture industries. 

The NCAS evolved from more than 15 years of previous work in the area of antimicrobial stewardship by our team. A previous NH&MRC partnership grant involving Melbourne Health, The University of Melbourne, the Victorian Department of Health quality branch and Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, provided a platform of research in the area of antimicrobial stewardship programs in hospitals. Specifically, it examined the needs of major city hospitals, regional and remote hospitals and private hospitals; and demonstrated the need for a collaborative centre that worked beyond hospital walls.

The NCAS has a focus on the provision of education to build capacity in antimicrobial stewardship. Since 2011 we have provided education for registrars and consultants in infectious diseases and microbiology to equip them to manage antimicrobial stewardship programs in hospitals. Subsequently our forums have become tailored to suit nurses and infection control practitioners and hospital pharmacists, including specialised antimicrobial pharmacists and general ward pharmacists. In 2016 our team began providing workshops in regional centres to expand activity in antimicrobial stewardship.

Our team know that resources and tools can assist with implementation of best practice in antimicrobial prescribing. We develop and disseminate simple tools that bring advice to the point of care. Our information and communications technology innovation arm Guidance has developed software to assist with the entire hospital antimicrobial stewardship program activity. Guidance software is now in use at many of hospitals across Australia, with use sustained for over 10 years. Our tools provides decision support, electronic approvals, managed post prescription review and allows detailed auditing and reporting functionality.

In addition the NCAS has developed and continues to deliver the National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS). Since 2012 this auditing tool has progressively grown with hundreds of hospitals participating in surveys that permit patient level assessments of the compliance and appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing and detailed comparisons in prescribing behaviours. The NAPS is now a core activity of the program to monitor Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA). The key to our suite of audit tools is that we assist hospitals to adequately train auditors to obtain consistent data and to meaningfully interpret these data to find important areas to target for quality improvement activities. The NAPS support team continue to provide assistance to auditors involved in antimicrobial stewardship programs in resource limited settings nationally, so as to accurately audit and interpret their data. Data from the NAPS is fed back to inform national guidelines so that areas of deviation from evidence based best practice can be identified and improved. 

An important attribute of the NCAS is that we are a multidisciplinary team. Each year our team grows as we are joined by infectious diseases physicians, microbiologists, veterinarians, pharmacists, nurses, infection control practitioners, software developers and a group of keen research fellows in PhD, masters and post doc positions. Our team has a passion for providing practical assistance, understanding real life challenges and ensuring that we are part of ongoing discussions with policy makers. 

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