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Overuse of antibiotics is a serious threat

Misusing antibiotics today might mean that infections that were easily treated could once again kill.

This is the message from South Devon and Torbay doctors stepping up their antibiotics awareness campaign.
In recent years bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and not many new antibiotics are being developed.
As bacterial resistance grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, which then affects patient care.
This week is the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week (16-22 November) and local GPs and politicians are backing calls to raise awareness about the need for people to use antibiotics responsibly today so lives will be saved tomorrow.

Dr Jo Roberts is the clinical lead for medicines optimisation at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the majority of healthcare in the area.
He said: “The reality is that we’re losing this battle. If something doesn’t change, a lot of routine surgery, such as hip and knee replacements, will stop because of the risk of infection.
“Already, some hospitals are seeing patients with a particular infection for which there’s no antibiotic treatment.
“So it’s essential that we all take steps to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
 
“Antibiotics are a precious resource and should be preserved. They should only be used when prescribed by a health professional to treat bacterial infections.
 
“Antibiotics should never be shared, and the full course of treatment should be completed – not saved for the future.”
 
A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the World Health Assembly in May.
 
One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.
 
To help with this, South Devon and Torbay CCG has issued thousands of leaflets to GPs, outlining to patients why they won’t be prescribed antibiotics if they do not need them. The message is also now on TV screens at South Devon and Torbay GP practices.
It is hoped that the increased awareness will also help to encourage people with minor coughs and colds from visiting Torbay Hospital’s A&E department, which in turn will reduce the pressures on hospitals this winter.
Dr Roberts added: “The common cold is the most frequent reason for people asking to be prescribed antibiotics, even though antibiotics have no effect on viruses.
 
“Antibiotics should only be used when needed and only when prescribed. It’s no exaggeration to say that antibiotics resistance is one of the biggest public health crises of our time.”