This site is intended for health professionals only

DH launches antibiotics campaign

A new drive to raise antibiotics awareness was launched today to remind the public that antibiotics do not work in treating viral infections such as coughs and colds.

The aim of the campaign is to emphasise the importance of taking antibiotics responsibly by putting an end to their unnecessary use and encouraging people to follow their GP's advice by using antibiotics appropriately.

The inappropriate use of antibiotics has become a serious problem in Europe which is why there is now an annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD).

The use of antibiotics gives bacteria the chance to develop resistance which threatens to make antibiotic treatments ineffective. This risk is increased by unnecessary antibiotic use and we need to preserve existing treatments for the future.

Chief Medical Officer (Interim) Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "As the season for coughs and colds approaches, the public are being reminded to 'Get well without antibiotics' because these drugs do not cure most coughs, colds and sore throats.

"The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the risks in taking antibiotics for the wrong reasons, and to keep antibiotics effective for use in future generations."

Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:

"Patients need to know that antibiotics are not always the answer and certainly in the case of coughs and colds they are of little use. It can be very difficult for a GP having a consultation with a patient who expects antibiotics. Many patients think that antibiotics reduce the effects of coughs and colds when in fact these infections will often get better anyway without their use. Plenty of rest and lots of fluids will often help patients fight these infections much more effectively."


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I think that antibiotics do certainly have a good effect if taken
appropriately. Surrounded by doctors who also self-administer antibiotics so they can return to work earlier, I wonder about our patients who also have jobs and can't be off for long. If early antibiotics apply to the doctors, why would it not be appropriate to give it to our patients for the same reasons?" - Leigh Smith

"GPs should refuse to prescribe them unless they are indicated. We can't buy them over the counter here so it is up to the GPs to ensure correct usage" - Mary Melhuish, Mid-Wales

"Every nurse practitioner in the UK knows about the risk attached to taking antibiotics unnecessarily. But do the GP know about it? GPs are fond of feeling important and prescribe antibiotics for anything and everything despite overwhelming evidence of increased resistance and formation of superbugs. I used to complain about the overuse of antibiotics some 30 years ago and the closest we got to control it then was to banish the use of tri-biotic spray in the A&E department" - Kresh Ramanah, London

"I totally agree with Anne. GPs often undermine the good work we try to do! One GP admitted that he always gives just one course of ABs for a cough, as it always seems to work! But the same could be said of many things that we try to change only to have GPs taking the easy way out to save time and unnecessary appointments. Until the public start acting
responsibly in looking for the magic pill it won't change, they all come in professing 'I'm not one for taking pills but ...' ; looking for the easy option!" - Name and address supplied

"I have been trying to get this message across for years, patients agree until they feel wretched and then want their antibiotics, drives me mad when they come back later to see a GP and get the prescription for amoxicillin!" - Anne, Kidderminster

"I work as a nurse practitioner/minor illness nurse in a busy rural practice. Patients make it very difficult not to prescribe antibiotics, they believe they will help. Always given a prescription in the past years. Or they come in saying they could not get an appointment so their symptoms are better!!" - Elizabeth Cook, Grampian

"At last, albeit rather late, some proper advice. If we go on using antibiotics inappropriately and not allowing our immune systems to heal us we shall soon have completely impotent immune systems and remain at risk constantly from any and every bug going" - Angela Holroyd