St Helens Council and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are backing Public Health England’s national campaign to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’.
Local health professionals and representatives from the council and CCG gathered recently at Saints RFC Stadium to discuss the global threat of antibiotic resistance, and how it can be tackled locally, taking the message back to their own practices and organisations that unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions put lives at risk.
Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but they are frequently being used to treat illnesses like coughs, earache and sore throats that can often get better by themselves.
Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections and this figure is set to rise with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.
The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign urges residents in St Helens to always trust their doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when they need antibiotics and if they are prescribed, take antibiotics as directed and never save them for later use or share them with others. The campaign also provides effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better without prescribed antibiotics.
Dr Paul Rose, GP Governing Body member and Public Health Lead GP for NHS St Helens CCG said: “Many people who come to GP practices have viral infections like colds and antibiotics don’t work for these. Rightly, the onus is on health professionals to be firm about when antibiotics are and are not prescribed, but residents must also trust that doctors, nurses and pharmacists have their best interests at heart, and understand that antibiotics are not a cure-all. If we keep overusing antibiotics they will stop working when we really need them.”
Councillor Gill Neal, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “It can be easy for non-medical professionals to dismiss antibiotic resistance as an exaggerated public health worry, but it is already leading to thousands of deaths every year that could be avoided. That number is only set to rise, unless we change our behaviour now. Everybody wants to get well sooner from illness, but not everything can be treated with antibiotics, so trust and follow your doctor’s advice.”
For further information on antibiotics, their uses and the risk of resistance, please search ‘antibiotics’ online at www.nhs.uk or to show your support become an antibiotic guardian today at www.antibioticguardian.com
Photo: Dr Paul Rose and Cllr Gill Neal (second from right) with other local health leaders.