Keep Antibiotics Working

Published: 09 Nov 2017

Antibiotic Awareness Week takes place 13-19 November and Hertfordshire County Council is using the opportunity to highlight a new campaign, which warns that taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk.

As the Chief Medical Officer and experts around the world warn of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” and “the end of modern medicine”, Public Health England’s (PHE) major new campaign aims to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’.

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.

Cabinet Member for Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, Richard Roberts, said: “Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery. They also treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, but they are being used for everyday viral infections, such as colds or flu, where they are not effective.

“Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them and puts you at risk of a more severe or longer infection.

“I would urge residents to always trust their doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when they need antibiotics. If prescribed, antibiotics should be taken as directed and never saved for later use or shared with others. The campaign also provides great advice to help people to feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.”

A recent report from PHE reveals that four in 10 patients with an E.coli bloodstream infection in England cannot be treated with the most commonly used antibiotic in hospitals.

Paul Cosford, Medical Director at Public Health England, comments: “Antibiotic resistance is not a distant threat, but is in fact one of the most dangerous global crises facing the modern world today. Without urgent action from all of us, common infections, minor injuries and routine operations will become much riskier.”

For further information on antibiotics, their uses and the risk of resistance, please search ‘NHS Antibiotics’ online.