Keep Antibiotics Working

Keep Antibiotics Working

It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.  This figure is set to rise with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people worldwide than cancer and diabetes combined.

Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant which means that antibiotics may not work when you need them next time.

Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but they are frequently being used to treat illnesses, such as coughs, colds and sore throats, that can get better by themselves.

We encourage you to always take your doctor’s, nurse’s or healthcare professional’s advice on when antibiotics are needed.

Without urgent action, common infections, minor injuries and routine operation will become far riskier.  Conditions like kidney infections and pneumonia have started to become untreatable.

We are working closely with our GPs to help reduce inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics so that patients who need antibiotics are getting the right dose, at the right time, for the right condition. 

We are asking for you to play your part by trusting your doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when you need to take antibiotics.”

To help prevent antibiotic resistance, antibiotics should only be taken as prescribed, and never saved for later use or shared with others.

What are viral infections, and can they be treated by antibiotics?

These are infections that are caused by a virus rather than bacteria.  The most common viral infections that people get are colds and flus.  But viruses also are the cause of most coughs, sore throats, and ear infections.  Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. 

How do they work?

They most commonly work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.

What are viral infections, and can they be treated by antibiotics?

These are infections that are caused by a virus rather than bacteria.  The most common viral infections that people get are colds and flus.  But viruses also are the cause of most coughs, sore throats, and ear infections.  Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. 

Did you know?

  • Over 850 million antibiotics tablets or capsules were prescribed in England in 2016.
    • In Wiltshire 260,245 tablets or capsules were prescribed in 2016
  • Over 5 million bottles of antibiotics were prescribed in England in 2016. These are usually given to young children, under 10 and under 6.
    • In Wiltshire 33,734 bottles of antibiotics were prescribed in 2016
  • 1 in 3 people in England takes at least one course of antibiotics each year.
  • It is estimated in England that between 10-20% of prescriptions are unnecessary or inappropriate.