Health experts across the Rochdale borough are urging people not to request antibiotics to treat coughs, colds and sore throats.
The move coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Monday 18 November and is part of continuing efforts on making sure the cures of today are not lost.
Local GPs and health professionals have been making a concerted effort to tackle high levels of community antibiotic prescribing in the borough for a number of years. This has resulted in some reduction, but more needs to be done.
Over-use of antibiotics is a global problem and one that is threatening to destroy one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of our time.
Unnecessary antibiotic prescribing is leading to increased antimicrobial resistance which means that some germs are becoming more and more resistant to our range of antibiotic treatments, even the newest ones, making them ineffective and useless. As a result of this, many patients now and in the future will face increasing dangers of infection which might cause longer bouts of illness and, in some serious cases, premature death.
European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November marks the start of the winter cold and flu season when there is a natural rise in people suffering from coughs, colds and sore throats.
People with these symptoms are advised to consult their local pharmacist first and try over-the-counter medicines to overcome these viral infections.
Wendy Meston, Director of Public Health for Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’re asking people not to demand antibiotics to treat minor coughs, colds and sore throats. Unfortunately, no amount of antibiotics is going to help treat these viral infections. The best medicine you can receive is plenty of rest and fluids and paracetamol, if required.”
GPs across the borough have pledged to support a reduction in unnecessary antibiotic prescribing locally by offering patients who attend with coughs, colds and sore throats written information explaining the benefits of self-managing their condition with of plenty of rest and fluids or, in some cases, the use of a delayed prescription.
Dr Chris Duffy, local GP and Chair of NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As most antibiotics are prescribed through general practice, safely reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions is essential in tackling this issue.
“Most viral infections clear up by themselves in five to 10 days. If problems persist, we always advise that you see your GP.”
To help combat winter viruses, free flu vaccinations are offered to those most at risk including; pregnant women, over 65s and those with long-term health conditions. This year children aged two and three are also being offered a free nasal spray vaccination. Contact your GP to receive the flu vaccination or visit www.nhs.uk/flu for more information.
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