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Use antibiotics wisely, urge local NHS commissioners

Tue 29th March 2016

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‘Antibiotics aren’t always the answer’ is the message from NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in a new campaign that aims to reduce antibiotic resistance by curbing inappropriate use.

Nine out of ten GPs have revealed that patients visiting them expect to be prescribed antibiotics for common illnesses like colds, flu or earache, despite the drugs not working for viral infections.*

The CCG is urging patients to only use antibiotics under the instruction of your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and, when prescribed, complete the course and never share them with other people.

Dr Jackie Gillespie, prescribing lead for Sunderland CCG, said: “Antibiotics only fight infections caused by bacteria. Used inappropriately, we increase the risk that bacteria will develop resistance.  Eventually this means that antibiotics will no longer be effective for what they are meant to treat.

“It’s a simple message – by only using antibiotics when necessary, they are more likely to work when we really need them.  We all have a responsibility to protect antibiotics for our children’s generation.

“Antibiotics can also have side-effects as they upset the natural balance of bacteria potentially resulting in diarrhoea and/or thrush.

“The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is plenty of fluids and rest as it can be some time until you feel back to your best. For more advice, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.”

Antibiotic mythbuster

  • Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate – bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, which means they no longer work
  • Many patients expect their GP to prescribe them antibiotics, even for cases that will get better naturally or respond better with other treatments
  • Antibiotics do not work for ALL colds, or for most coughs, sore throats or earache – these are viral infections. Your body can usually fight these infections on its own
  • Antibiotics can also cause side-effects such as rashes, stomach pains and reactions to sunlight
  • Producing green phlegm or snot is not always a sign of a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics to get better
  • Most infections that result in you producing lots of phlegm or snot are viral illnesses and will get better on their own, although you can expect to feel poorly for a few weeks.

* Further information about the pressure that GPs face and antibiotic prescribing can be found in www.nice.org.uk/news/article/calls-for-nhs-to-curb-inappropriate-antibiotic-prescribing

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