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NHS Vale of York CCG asks people to become Antibiotic Guardians to encourage responsible use of the drugs

Members of the public and healthcare professionals across the Vale of York are being encouraged to become ‘Antibiotic Guardians’ to mark European Antibiotics Awareness Day on Tuesday 18 November.

The aim of the day is to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics, and increase understanding about how overusing antibiotics can significantly reduce their effectiveness and threaten the health of the person taking them.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, the GP Lead for Prescribing at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Antibiotics are important medicines for treating bacterial infections, but are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. Bacteria adapt and find new ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic and become resistant, meaning that the antibiotic no longer works. This resistance to antibiotics is one of the most significant threats to the safety of patients in Europe.”

To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance it is important to use antibiotics in the right way – use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, never saved for later or shared with others.

Members of the public are encouraged to take a pledge and become an Antibiotic Guardian at www.antibioticguardian.com.  

By pledging, members of the public will find out how they can make better use of antibiotics and help to stop these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

Inappropriate uses include:

• Not taking your antibiotics as prescribed
• Skipping doses of antibiotics
• Not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
• Saving some for later

Dr Shaun O’Connell added: “Antibiotic resistance is an everyday issue in our hospitals. Without effective antibiotics, many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Treating broken bones, basic operations and even chemotherapy all rely on antibiotics that work.

“The more often a person uses an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will develop resistance.  Very few new antibiotics are being developed.

Liz Colling, Pharmacist Chair of the North Yorkshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), said: “Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. All colds and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses and generally these will get better on their own.

“Please ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter remedies that can help you feel better and remember a cold can take several days to go away.

"It is very important that you only take medicines that have been prescribed for you. If for whatever reason you have unused prescribed medicines, including antibiotics, please return them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.”

Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of York Council, said: “Without antibiotics to rely on, many of the infectious diseases we thought were a thing of the past will once again be major threats to public health.

“We already have strains of tuberculosis (TB) which are resistant to most antibiotics – these patients become very poorly and have to be kept isolated for long periods of time.”

Signing up as an Antibiotic Guardian is a positive step to find out more about the correct use of antibiotics and what people themselves can do to ensure the drugs remain a valuable and effective resource for everyone.

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