The number of people in Fylde and Wyre who have suffered from clostridium difficile – an infection that causes severe bowel problems and is often caused by antibiotic use – has dropped by more than 70 per cent in the past six months.

There have been just 18 cases of clostridium difficile, more commonly known as C Diff, in Fylde and Wyre since April, compared with 65 in the same period last year.

C Diff is a bacterium that can infect the bowel and cause diarrhoea. The infection most commonly affects people who have recently been treated with antibiotics, but can spread easily to others.

Health leaders, GPs, microbiologists and consultants from across the area have been working hard to drastically reduce the number of infections by working to improve antibiotic prescribing across Fylde and Wyre.

Every month a panel of experts comes together at NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to investigate all cases of C Diff and assess whether they were avoidable or unavoidable.

The findings and information from these review panels are then circulated to all local doctors both in GP surgeries and the hospital.

Dr Felicity Guest, a Thornton GP and a member of the CCG’s Governing Body, said: “We were very keen to address the issue of C Diff and other healthcare acquired infections in Fylde and Wyre.

“Fylde and Wyre CCG investigation into individual cases in this area is helpful because it  opens up a dialogue that helps us determine how these infections have happened and in some cases what could have been done to prevent an infection occurring.

“Being able to share this learning with the wider healthcare community has put the spotlight on these infections and helped us to significantly reduce the number of occurrences.”

The World Health Organisation’s European Antibiotic Awareness Week began on Monday to raise awareness of increasing resistance to antibiotics globally and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

Last year, Fylde and Wyre CCG launched new leaflets to be handed to patients by their GP explaining why antibiotics had not been prescribed.

This was in an effort to raise public awareness that the drugs do not fight infections caused by viruses such as colds, flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis.

The leaflets, which utilise the branding from the popular Think! Why A&E? campaign, are still being used by GP surgeries across the Fylde coast to raise awareness of this important issue.