Doctors and pharmacists are urging patients to understand why they might not be prescribed an antibiotic.
Rising rates of resistance to antibiotics could be one of the most significant threats to patient safety, experts believe, driven by a combination of overuse and inappropriate prescribing.
Patients in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire are now being asked during a new campaign to understand why doctors need to reserve antibiotics for those patients who really need them.
Increased antibiotic resistance could mean some illnesses like pneumonia, which have been largely controlled by antibiotics, could become major causes of death once again.
Dr Manir Hussain, Associate Director - Medicines Optimisation for North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “People often go straight to their GP for antibiotics when they have a cough, a cold or even flu, not realising that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and won’t work on colds or flu or any other illness caused by viruses.
“Antibiotics are vital for treating bacterial infections and it is important that people use them the right way, in the right dosage and at the right time as we need to do all we can to prevent this hugely important medicine from becoming ineffective.”
Many patients with conditions which are deemed to be viral will now be handed cards explaining why “You have not been prescribed an antibiotic today”.
Dr Hussain said: “We would like people to understand why they may not always be given an antibiotic. It is important people only take them when they are absolutely necessary.”
Antibiotics can also have unpleasant side effects. These include
- stomach pains
Dr Hussain said: “The cards that patients will be handed will include some practical advice for tackling their conditions like colds. These are ‘self-limiting’ and will often get better by themselves.”
“Often the best thing is to take medicines like paracetamol to control your symptoms and keep well hydrated. Alternatively, you can visit a pharmacist, who will be able to advise on common illnesses like the cold and how best to manage them.”