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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Use of antibiotics in Cumbria down more than seven per cent

Antibiotic use has dropped by more than seven per cent across Cumbria in the last year, the News & Star can reveal.

David Rogers photo
David Rogers

The figures come as Prime Minister David Cameron called for global action to tackle the growing resistance to antibiotics.

He warned: “We are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back to the Dark Ages where treatable infections will kill once again.”

In Cumbria a campaign has already been underway to reduce the number of antibiotics given out to ensure they are used more wisely.

This is because using them too often is helping bacteria build up resistance to them, so they don’t have an effect when patients need them

The Antibiotics Is Not Always The Answer initiative, led by family doctors in the county, saw prescribing of these drugs drop by 7.1 per cent last year. This was the biggest drop in the region and way above the national average of 4.5 per cent.

Organised and funded by NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the campaign highlighted the importance of using antibiotics wisely to ensure their preserve their strength to fight future illnesses.

Posters and booklets were displayed in GP surgeries and a postcard sent to every household in Cumbria. It aimed to inform people about when antibiotics are not the answer – for example treating viral infections such as sore throats, ear ache and colds.

The Cumbrian campaign has been so successful it was mentioned in a European report about awareness.

Dr David Rogers, the CCG’s medical director, said: “The aim of the campaign was to remind the public the importance of not using antibiotics to fight viral infections as there is a danger they are losing their effectiveness faster than ever seen before.

“Antibiotics have revolutionised medical care in the last 80 years and are the best way to fight bacterial infection, but have no effect on viral infections,” he said.

“However, in recent years the bugs have gained the upper hand, as they have the ability to change and adapt making some bacteria antibiotic resistant. Therefore it is important that we only give antibiotics when they are really needed and will have a real effect.

“The latest antibiotics prescribing figures for Cumbria are good news for the fight against antibiotic resistance. However, we cannot be complacent and need to keep the message out there – antibiotics are not always the answer.”

He urged patients not to put health staff under pressure to provide antibiotics.

Its also important that when they are prescribed, patients make sure they take the full course and don’t stop just because they feel better.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that antibiotic resistance is one of the three greatest threats to human health. If resistance to antibiotics continues to increase at its current rate there are worries that bacterial pneumonia could again mean a death sentence for some people, as it often did until just after the Second World War.

The Prime Minister has commissioned a review looking at the issues in more detail, including what can be done to encourage development of new drugs.

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