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Health warning – residents urged to help tackle antibiotic resistance

Press Release   •   Nov 13, 2014 09:50 GMT

One of the biggest breakthroughs in medical science are in danger of becoming ineffective because of over use. Antibiotics are being so over prescribed there is a real danger that bacteria will become resistant to them so they no longer work.

Organisers of European Antibiotic Awareness Day want individuals to help prevent this happening by not requesting antibiotics from their GP.

The Awareness Day on Tuesday November 18 is aimed at highlighting the serious problem of antimicrobial resistance and supported by Rochdale Borough Council.

Wendy Meston, Director of Public Health, said it poses a threat to everyone:

“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. Antibiotic resistance is a threat to people’s health and the resistant bacteria don’t just affect you, they can spread to other people in close contact with you and are very difficult to treat.”

To help fight back, residents are being encouraged not to ask for antibiotics from their GP for cold and flu symptoms, which should be treated instead by over-the-counter medicines at the pharmacist.

You should also only take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, never save then for later and never share them with others.

“What we are doing is encouraging people to spread the word, tell your family and friends about antibiotic resistance, because it really does impact on everyone and there are things we can all do to help. Resistance to antibiotics is rising and we need to face up to the problem. It’s one of the biggest threats to health facing the world today and everybody must take action,”

added Wendy.

GPs across the Rochdale borough are helping to tackle the problem by only prescribing antibiotics when absolutely necessary or when they will have benefit in fighting an infection rather than a virus. Instead, they are promoting alternative actions patients can take to help themselves when suffering from viruses such as colds and flu.

As part of this, where a patient is not prescribed antibiotics by their GP, they are given an information leaflet explaining the reasons for this and offering self-care advice to treat their symptoms.

Keith Pearson, a local pharmacist and Head of Medicines Optimisation at NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG), said:

“There is a common misconception that antibiotics can cure a cold or a case of flu. If a cold is making you feel under the weather, antibiotics aren’t going to help. The best treatment is through over-the-counter remedies, plenty of rest and rehydration.”

“If you are prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, it’s really important that you take the complete course exactly as directed by your GP or pharmacist in order to get rid of the infection completely.”

Councillor Cecile Biant, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Regulation at Rochdale Borough Council said:

“Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health challenge so we hope by raising awareness in this way and working together we can ensure antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary.”

To find out more about antibiotics and how they are best used, visit www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC

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