Hospital and GPs back campaign to reduce overuse of antibiotics to save lives

Picture courtesy of Wye Valley NHS Trust.

Left to right: WVT consultant microbiologist Alison Johnson, left, and Dr Paul Harris catch up with patient Jenny Davies at Hereford County Hospital, to discuss the use of antibiotics.

 

Members of the public are being urged to only take antibiotics when they need them before it is too late and we return to a pre-antibiotic age where common infections and illnesses become untreatable due to overuse making antibiotics ineffective.

Public Health England (PHE)’s latest English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) report shows that there were an estimated 61,000 antibiotic resistant infections in England during 2018 - a 9 per cent rise from 2017.

NHS healthcare organisations across Herefordshire have joined forces to back PHEs national Keep Antibiotics Working campaign.

Dr Paul Harris, GP and Medicines Optimisation Lead for NHS Herefordshire CCG said:  “It’s important that patient’s listen to their doctor’s advice and understand that antibiotics won’t be prescribed if they are not going to be effective.  Many illnesses can be fought off by our body’s own immune system, such as viral infections including a sore throat, cough or flu. 

“Taking antibiotics encourages potentially harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant, meaning they are less likely to work for you in the future. They can also cause side effects, such as diarrhoea, and kill off healthy gut bacteria impacting on your overall health.  

“If you have a minor illness, rest, keep warm, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and visit your local pharmacy instead of your GP for advice on medicines you can take at home.”

Alison Johnson, consultant microbiologist, commented at Wye Valley NHS Trust, said: “If we continue to overuse antibiotics they will no longer be effective in the prevention of infections for people undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, or for the treatment of serious illnesses such as Sepsis.

“Every day in England there are 165 new antibiotic resistant infections ‘super bugs’ and for many of these infections we won’t have viable alternative treatments, so we all need to take action to keep antibiotics working to save lives. 

Karen Wright, Director of Public Health at Herefordshire Council, added: “Pharmacists, doctors and nurses who prescribe medication in the county are committed to use antibiotics prudently.

While there has been a drop in the prescribing of antibiotics, we need to preserve them for when we really need them and we’re calling on the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only taking antibiotics when needed”.