Help to keep antibiotics working

25th Jul 2018
A national expert has been to West Norfolk to raise awareness of the importance of keeping antibiotics working.
NHS Improvement’s National Project Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance Elizabeth Beech outlined the impact of antibiotic resistance during an educational meeting for GPs and practice development nurses on Tuesday, July 10.
Since their discovery in the 1920s, antibiotics have become an integral part of healthcare by treating and preventing bacterial infections. Major surgery, cancer treatments and even childbirth carry more of a risk without effective antibiotics.
If our use of antibiotics does not change it is estimated that 10 million lives could be lost by 2050 due to infections that cannot be treated because antibiotics don’t work any more.
Speaking after the session Ms Beech said: “Antibiotics do not work with minor illnesses like coughs and colds but they are incredibly effective in helping to prevent infection after surgery and to treat infections in people who have chemotherapy.
“Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant – Super Bugs - so when you really need these drugs they may not work.
“Please trust your doctor, nurse or pharmacist – if you need antibiotics they will prescribe them. If you have a minor illness like a cold, sore throat or a cold then please consult a pharmacist who will be able to help.”
Most minor illnesses such as sore throats are caused by viral infections, which usually last for five to 10 days, and antibiotics don’t work for viral infections.
West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys local health services, organised the event as part of its programme of learning for the area’s GPs.
GP Governing Body member and Prescribing Lead Dr Uma Balasubramaniam said: “We were really pleased to welcome Elizabeth Beech to West Norfolk to share her expertise with us.
“Antibiotic resistance is a really important issue and we are asking for the public’s help in keeping antibiotics working.
“West Norfolk has high rates of antibiotic prescribing. As GPs, we see a lot of patients who ask for antibiotics to treat viral illnesses and these drugs will have absolutely no effect on their symptoms or recovery.
“Some broad spectrum antibiotics like co-amoxiclav, ciprofloxacin and cephalexin do not just kill the nasty bacteria but also the friendly ones which can cause an imbalance in the gut and can lead to diarrhoea. Please don’t ask for these antibiotics because you think they are strong. Please trust your doctor.”
For more information visit the Antibiotic Guardian website,
Pictured, from left, are: Elizabeth Beech, Dr Uma Balasubramaniam, and Irene Karrouze