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GPs 'need to learn to resist antibiotics demand'

GPs and nurses are being urged to resist patient demands to prescribe antibiotics for colds and flu.

Research by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shows the majority of GPs and nurses give in to patient requests for antibiotics, even when they know they will have little to no effect.

According to the survey, 97% of patients were found to be successful in their requests for antibiotics.

At a time of growing concern over the increasing resistance to antibiotics, which 70% of respondents acknowledged is a problem that could affect them and their families, a quarter of adults said they believed antibiotics worked on “most coughs and colds” and “expected” them to be prescribed by their GP.

“Although the public recognises resistance as a problem, our findings show that people expect, and are often prescribed, antibiotics for mild illnesses such as coughs, colds and sore throats as well as for flu, which can be more severe, but is still a viral illness,” said Dr Cliodna McNulty, the HPA's head of primary care.

“Health professionals need to learn to resist demands from patients for treatments they know have little or no effect on coughs and colds.”

The HPA survey also shows one in ten people keep ‘leftover' antibiotics for later use.

“Health professionals need to stress to patients that self treatment with leftover antibiotics is not only unsafe but can lead to the emergence of resistance,” said Dr McNulty. 

Health Protection Agency