New Guardians to encourage responsible use of antibiotics

11-11-2014

NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG are encouraging members of the public and healthcare professionals to become ‘Antibiotic Guardians’ as part of marking ‘European Antibiotics Awareness Day’ on Tuesday 18 November.

The aim of the day is to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics and increase understanding about how overusing antibiotics can significantly reduce their effectiveness. Antibiotic overuse can threaten the health of the person taking them.

Dr Leen Witvliet, NHS Hull CCG Prescribing Lead said: “We need to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in order to tackle the increasing issue of antibiotic resistance.  

“Most coughs, colds, sore throats and mild infections can be successfully treated with the use of over the counter remedies rather than antibiotics. We would ask the people of Hull to consider visiting their local community pharmacy or calling NHS 111 rather than visiting the GP to get antibiotics for a minor illness.

“Having said this, if you feel you are suffering with more than a minor illness or infection then please seek medical advice. If antibiotics are necessary it is important that they are taken exactly as prescribed, the course is completed and they are never saved for future use or shared with others.”

Antibiotics are important medicines for treating bacterial infections, but are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. Bacteria adapt and ?nd new ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic and become resistant, meaning that the antibiotic no longer works. This resistance to antibiotics is one of the most significant threats to the safety of patients in Europe.

 Members of the public are encouraged to take a pledge and become an Antibiotic Guardian at www.antibioticguardian.com.  

By pledging members of the public will find out how they can make better use of antibiotics and help to stop this vital medicine from becoming obsolete.

Dr Angela Harley, Prescribing Lead at the CCG and GP said: “Antibiotic resistance is an everyday issue in all hospitals across England and Europe. Without effective antibiotics, many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations and even chemotherapy all rely on antibiotics that work.

“The more often a person use antibiotics, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. New antibiotics may not always be available to replace them, which obviously can cause problems.

“All colds and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses and generally these will get better on their own. Our advice is to not ask for antibiotics. Consider alternatives by asking your GP or pharmacist about over-the-counter remedies that can help in the first instance.”

Inappropriate use of antibiotics includes:

- Not taking your antibiotics as prescribed

- Skipping doses of antibiotics

- Not taking antibiotics at regular intervals

- Saving some for later

To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance it is important to use antibiotics in the right way, to use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, never saved for later or shared with others.

GPs and clinicians also have a role to play by not prescribing antibiotics inappropriately. They have targets to meet demonstrating their commitment to discouraging the use of antibiotics when they are known not to work, and recommending alternative forms of treatment that are more appropriate.

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