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Residents urged to keep antibiotics working

03 March 2017

Keep antibiotics working

Health experts are urging residents to take their doctor's advice about antibiotics in a bid to reduce resistance to the medicines.

Rochdale Borough Council and Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are backing Public Health England's (PHE) campaign to keep antibiotics working by warning about unnecessary use.

Each year in England an estimated 5,000 people die as a result of antibiotics no longer working for some infections –13 people every day.

According to Public Health England (PHE) antibiotics are being used inappropriately on a daily basis, to treat viral infections such as colds or flu, where they are not effective. People also take them not as prescribed or save them for later use, which is equally dangerous.

"Always listen to your GP when it comes to antibiotics"

Taking antibiotics when they are not needed causes dangerous bacteria inside the body to become resistant to them. The bacteria can also be passed on to family members or friends, which means they are less likely to work for everyone when they are really needed.

It is believed that, if this inappropriate use of antibiotics continues, in 30 years' time the number of deaths caused by antibiotics not working could increase to around 60,000 people every year - around 160 deaths a day. This means a world where common infections, minor injuries and routine operations are far riskier.

Andrea Fallon, Rochdale Borough Council's, director of public health and wellbeing, said: "When we are suffering with an infection we often think of antibiotics as the cure, but antibiotics are only able to tackle infections caused by bacteria, and most coughs and colds are due to virus's which antibiotics just can't treat.

"Taking antibiotics when we don't need them results in bacteria becoming resistant, and our overuse of these medicines in the past now means that we have a small number of infections which have become resistant to all antibiotics which is a real worry. Your GP practice team can advise you on how to stay well and get better quickly, and they are working hard to make sure that our antibiotics remain effective for years to come. So always listen to your GP when it comes to antibiotics."

"Misuse and overuse is causing antibiotics to stop working"

Antibiotics are an important tool for doctors and healthcare professionals to help treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningococcal meningitis and  sepsis and to help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery.

They should not be used to treat everyday illnesses such as colds, vomiting and diarrhoea, ear infections or cystitis.

Dr Chris Duffy, HMR CCG chair and a local GP, said: "Misuse and overuse of antibiotics is causing antibiotic resistance meaning that antibiotics could stop working. Antibiotics shouldn't be used to treat viral infections such as colds and flu like symptoms they should be used for more serious bacterial illnesses. A pilot is currently being carried out in five Practices in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale utilising new technology which allows GPs to quickly determine if infections are due to bacterial or viral infections. A small finger blood test is carried out and provides the GP with a result in two to three minutes. If the pilot is successful it could provisionally be offered to all GP practices later in the year." 

The campaign has been launched in the North West following PHE figures that show one in four people (23%) had never heard of antibiotic resistance. 40 per cent of people in the North West also didn't realise that if someone has taken antibiotics in the last year, any infection they get is more likely to be antibiotic resistant.

To keep antibiotics working always take a healthcare professionals advice; this can be a doctor, nurse or pharmacist. 

Get more information on antibiotic resistance

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