Leicestershire NHS leaders are backing a campaign against the unnecessary use of antibiotics and encouraging members of the public and healthcare workers to sign up to become ‘Antibiotic Guardians’.
Dr David Jenkins, Consultant Medical Microbiologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, is urging health professionals and patients to think twice before using antibiotics, when an alternative treatment would be more appropriate.
He said: “Antibiotics are essential medicines for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals, but they are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate.
“Inappropriate use and prescribing of antibiotics is causing the unnecessary development of resistance. This means that the antibiotic no longer works. If we don’t all act fast we could enter an era where no antibiotics work meaning that trivial infections could become fatal and routine treatments that rely on the use of antibiotics, such as setting broken bones, basic operations and chemotherapy, become increasingly dangerous.”
Dr Jenkins’ warning comes in the countdown to European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Tuesday 18 November, a national campaign by Public Health England.
There are very few new antibiotics in the development pipeline, which is why it is important we use our existing antibiotics wisely and make sure these life-saving medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and future generations.
Many antibiotics are prescribed and used for mild infections when they do not need to be, say campaigners. All colds and most coughs, sinusitis, earache and sore throats are caused by viral infections which do not respond to antibiotics.
People should speak to their local pharmacist about treating their symptoms effectively rather than requesting antibiotics from their GP. Antibiotics can themselves have unpleasant side effects such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and allergic reactions.
Public Health England established the ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ pledge campaign for the first time this year. It calls on the public and medical community to become ‘Antibiotic Guardians’ by choosing one simple pledge about how they will make better use of these vital medicines. Health professionals and patients can all sign up online at http://antibioticguardian.com/ .
Dr Jenkins is urging all local GPs and other authorised healthcare professionals to back the campaign and only prescribe antibiotics when clinically necessary.
He also asks patients to remember: “Antibiotics should only be taken as prescribed, and never saved for later or shared with others. Everyone can become an ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ and spread the word about using antibiotics appropriately to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance.”