Patients in the Stafford area are being urged to use antibiotics responsibly to keep them in good health and prevent disease-resistant infection from spreading.
Antibiotics are a vital tool for treating infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis and for preventing infections during surgical procedures and cancer treatment. However, the more antibiotics are used the less effective they become because overuse gives resistant bacteria a greater chance to survive and spread.
Dr Paddy Hannigan, Chair of Stafford and Surrounds CCG, said: “It is a common misconception that antibiotics are a cure-all - but the reality is they just won’t work in the case of a cold or the flu.
“Patients should be assured that when antibiotics are necessary they will be prescribed - but for other conditions alternative advice on symptom management will be provided rather than prescribing an antibiotic if it will not be effective. Doctors and patients should also consider that antibiotics can have side effects.”
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety worldwide. Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals. Doctors warn that as bacterial resistance grows it will become more difficult to treat infection.
The antibiotic resistance problem has become more serious because the discovery of new antibiotics is at an all-time low. It has now been over 30 years since a new class of antibiotics was discovered and health bosses need to protect the treatments currently available.
Dr Hannigan said that health services locally were working hard to reduce unnecessary prescribing. Since April 2016, a new NHS programme has been supporting hospitals and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to address issues in current antibiotic prescribing.
CCGs are being supported to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed in primary care by four per cent or to the average performance levels of 2013/14.
For many conditions, including coughs, colds and sore throats, antibiotics will make little difference to symptoms and may have side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting and rash. Patients should self-manage these conditions and seek advice from community pharmacists when appropriate.
Patients who do require antibiotics are being advised to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully, to not share antibiotics with other people and to complete the full course of treatment as prescribed in a bid to reduce the risk of increasing resistance.
Public Health England has developed the Antibiotic Guardian resource for both healthcare professionals and members of the public. Further information on antibiotics is available at http://antibioticguardian.com/