Doctors in Fylde and Wyre have backed a Europe-wide campaign urging residents to understand antibiotics are not always the answer to common winter illnesses.

NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a new leaflet in a bid to educate people positively about minor illnesses and the appropriate use of antibiotics.

The message – inspired by the European Antibiotics Awareness Day on Wednesday, 18 November – has embraced the already popular ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign branding which encourages those with minor ailments to avoid emergency care services by looking at alternatives such as self-care at home and has helped reduce activity at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Doctors have backed the campaign for the second year in a row after being repeatedly asked for antibiotics from patients who mistakenly believe they will help them treat viral illnesses picked up during the cold winter months.

When consulting with patients requesting antibiotics unnecessarily, doctors will fill in an information leaflet for the patient advising them of a better course of action and what to do in the case their condition doesn’t improve in a prescribed number of days.

Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer for NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG and a practicing Thornton GP, said: “Antibiotics can kills off helpful germs, as well as the harmful ones, meaning taking them can make patients pick up other infections more easily.

“Harmful germs can outsmart antibiotics and become resistant to them, so new infections are developing that are harder to treat with antibiotics.

“We could soon be close to the point where antibiotics may no longer be able to treat some everyday infections or diseases.

“To reduce this risk, doctors must make sure they prescribe antibiotics with care because then they will be more likely to work when people really need them.”

There is evidence that over-use of antibiotics can increase the chance of infection from resistant germs, which are often referred to as ‘super bugs’, the most common of which are Clostridium Difficile and MRSA.

For more information, visit www.WhyAandE.nhs.uk/antibiotics

Key facts about antibiotics

  • Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
  • Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth, but can sometimes be given into a vein (intravenous), into a muscle (intramuscular) or applied to the skin (topical)
  • Antibiotics work by killing bacteria and/or preventing their growth.
  • Different types of antibiotics treat different kinds of infection.
  • Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for respiratory infections, but most of these are caused by viruses not bacteria.
  • Most patients are prescribed antibiotics without the doctor knowing the cause of the infection.
  • Colds and most coughs are caused by viruses not bacteria, so antibiotics will not help.
  • If you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, they may lose their ability to kill bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistance is growing. If the bacteria keep “overpowering” the medicines we have, we may run out of ways to kill these bacteria.
  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause serious infections and can be spread to others in your family.

PICTURES

Caption: CCG clinical governance manager Nick Medway, left, with clinical chief officer Tony Naughton and some of the campaign materials being used to promote Antibiotics Awareness

Caption: Fylde and Wyre GPs show their backing to Antibiotics Awareness Day

NOTES:

  • NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the organisation responsible for planning and buying health services in the area to meet patients’ needs. This is known as ‘commissioning’.
  • Led by family doctors (GPs), the CCG currently serves a population of 152,000 people across approximately 320 sq km of coast and countryside. The majority live in the urban towns of Fleetwood, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Lytham St Annes, but a significant proportion live in rural villages.
  • The CCG receives a set amount of money from the government – around £200million in 2014/15 – and is committed to spending this wisely for the benefit of local people.
  • Giving you more choice is a priority of the modern NHS. More information is available at fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk/choice
  • The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient: nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx
  • There are many ways to get involved in health service developments, including joining our Influence membership scheme or your practice’s patient participation group.
  • For more information about the CCG and how to get involved log onto fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk