Over prescription of antibiotics has led to an increase in fatal antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA and experts have warned that unless the trend stops the drugs will become completely ineffective.
Senior doctors have warned it will lead to the end of modern medicine making even routine operations potentially deadly.
But patients regularly demand antibiotics for colds and flu even though they have no effect on viruses.
And if they GPs are frugal as they want to limit dishing out unnecessary antibiotics then they receive a poor rating.
Their ratings, which are linked to pay, drop by five or six points if they prescribe quarter fewer antibiotics than the national average.
GPs often feel pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics and find it difficult to refuse a patient who asks for them
Dr Mark Ashworth, GP
The body that represents family doctors said the findings were really a case of “being damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”
Dr Mark Ashworth, a GP and the lead author of the study from King’s College London Division of Health and Social Care Research, said: “Many patients come in asking for antibiotics when they have viral infections such as colds, coughs, sore throats, or the ‘flu, but antibiotics cannot treat viruses.
“GPs often feel pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics and find it difficult to refuse a patient who asks for them.
“These findings suggest that practices that try to help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by prescribing fewer antibiotics are likely to experience a drop in their satisfaction ratings.