Staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are supporting World Antibiotic Awareness Week by taking a pledge to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics and become “Antibiotic Guardians”.
Antibiotics have been one of the greatest breakthroughs in medicine and have saved millions of lives. But there is growing concern that overuse is making them less effective as bacteria develop resistance.
Last year, Public Health England reported a 6% increase in prescriptions between 2010 and 2013 and warned that up to half may be “inappropriate”. It also found a link between areas of high prescribing and resistant bacteria.
Currently, less than 1% of bacteria are extremely multi-drug resistant which means resistant to almost all the antibiotics available.
In some countries there are individuals who are unable to be treated effectively with antibiotics because of resistance and there is a fear that the UK will suffer the same issues if overuse does not stop.
Staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are being encouraged to become “Antibiotic Guardians” and at the beginning of this week a campaign on wards, clinics and public areas is reminding staff of the appropriate use of antibiotics and reminding members of the public that many common illnesses like coughs, colds or stomach bugs are caused by viruses, not bacteria, and therefore antibiotics will not work.
Dr Damian Riley, medical director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Some of the routine treatments and procedures we do now such as setting broken bones, joint replacement operations, and chemotherapy, all rely on access to antibiotics that will work. It is really important that our organisation leads the way as antibiotic prescribers and works with GP surgeries and dentists in the local area to ensure that antibiotics are only prescribed when really needed so that these antibiotics will continue to work where and when we need to use them.
“With winter approaching, it’s also important to understand that antibiotics will not cure colds and flu-like symptoms and instead treat yourself with advice from the pharmacist, get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol to reduce your temperature and ease aches and pains.”
Visit www.antibioticguardian.com to find out more about treating illnesses with antibiotics and antibiotic resistance and take the pledge to stop unnecessary use.