Patients in the Cannock 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 Mo Huda, Chair of Cannock Chase 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.”
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.
Dr Mo Huda said that health services locally were working hard to reduce unnecessary prescribing.
From 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.
During 2015/16, Cannock Chase CCG reviewed antibiotic prescribing. Historically, local prescribing levels have always been considerably above the national average. In 2015/16 the overall prescribing of antibiotics in Cannock Chase CCG was reduced by 8.3 per cent.
But despite the reductions in 2015/16, local prescribing still remains above the national average. Nine out of 10 GPs say that they can feel pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics, and 97 per cent of patients who ask for antibiotics are prescribed them. The CCG is therefore urging everyone to play their part in reducing inappropriate requests for antibiotics.
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. Increasingly, patients may receive advice and information leaflets for minor self-limiting upper respiratory infections from the doctor rather than a prescription.
In addition, practices may use delayed antibiotic strategies to reduce the expectation of antibiotics as patients realise that symptoms resolve themselves and antibiotics are not necessary.
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/
The subject of antibiotic prescribing was covered in one of the presentations at Cannock Chase CCG's Annual General Meeting on 7 July.