●● WITH Dr Graham Duce, GP at Park Green Surgery, Macclesfield, and clinical lead for antibiotic stewardship at NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) LAST week I arranged an antibiotic stewardship event for GPs in eastern Cheshire, which many of my colleagues attended.
We met to discuss how we can reduce and optimise antibiotic use in primary care.
Many ailments such as coughs, sore throats and earache for which patients consult their GP are caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not help treat them.
Your GP will not prescribe antibiotics for such infections, because higher and unnecessary antibiotic use is causing increasing antibiotic resistance, a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.
Alexander Fleming discovered the world’s first antibiotic in 1928 and when accepting his Nobel Prize in 1945, he warned of the dangers of bacteria becoming antibioticresistant.
Indeed, every new class of antibiotics has been followed by bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to them, and there have been few new antibiotic discoveries for 30 years.
Without effective antibiotics, managing common conditions such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia will become increasingly difficult, and treatments such as chemotherapy will become more dangerous.
We can help stop this from happening if we all join together and become ‘antibiotic guardians’.
The Antibiotic Guardian campaign was launched in September 2014 and so far more than 100 healthcare professionals and 3,600 members of the public have pledged to do their part to help reduce antibiotic resistance.
Becoming an antibiotic guardian is easy - visit antibioticguardian.com and sign up to one of the pledges, which include vowing to treat the symptoms of a cold or cough for five days before visiting a GP, and always taking any unused antibiotics to a pharmacy for safe disposal.
Remembering not to share or reuse antibiotics is also very important, as is taking them at regular intervals throughout the day to ensure that the right amount of antibiotic is around the infection all the time.
Finishing a course of antibiotics is also essential, even if you feel better, unless a healthcare professional tells you otherwise.
If you stop taking an antibiotic part way through a course, the bacteria can become resistant and you may not fully recover from your illness.
For more information about antibiotic resistance and the importance of Antibiotic Guardians, visit easterncheshireccg.nhs. uk/News/Why-we-needantibiotic-guardians. htm.
●● Dr Graham Duce