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Threat posed by antibiotic resistance is a ‘ticking time-bomb’, East Lancashire health campaigner warns

Posted on 27/10/2017 by

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THE THREAT posed by antibiotic resistance is a ‘ticking time-bomb’, a health campaigner has warned.

East Lancashire’s patients’ champion Russ McLean said the problem has the potential to be a ‘public health crisis’ which could result in people needlessly dying.

The warning comes as Public Health England (PHE) launches a major new national campaign to help ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’.

It urges people in the North West not to take antibiotics when they are not needed, as it puts them at risk of a ‘more severe or longer’ infections, and patients should instead take their doctor’s advice on antibiotics.

Essential for treating serious bacterial infections such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, antibiotics are now frequently being used to treat minor illnesses such as coughs, ear ache and sore throats.

Health chiefs said this can encourage harmful bacteria that live inside people to become resistant, and it is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because they no longer work for some infections.

And experts predict that in just over 30 year, antibiotic resistance will ‘kill more people than cancer and diabetes’ combined.

Mr McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “I would support the Public Health England campaign wholeheartedly.

“Too many patients have sadly been misguided in the fact that they think antibiotics can be used for common colds, while over the years, GPs have too readily prescribed antibiotics when they don’t work.

“If this ticking-time bomb isn’t addressed, it could become a serious public health crisis which could result in people needlessly dying.”

Doctor William Welfare, consultant in health protection,at Public Health England North West, said antibiotics are frequently used ‘inappropriately’ to treat minor illnesses.

Dr Welfare said: “Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis,

“But if you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, the antibiotics will be less effective in fighting the next bacterial infection you get. “

“To ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ for you and your family, always take your doctors advice.”

Doctor Penny Morris, vice chairman at Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said it is a ‘really important’ campaign to support as we are seeing the effectiveness of antibiotics reducing.

Dr Morris said: “Antibiotics are unlike many other drugs used in medicine, as the more we use them the less effective they become against their target organisms.

"Patients must ensure that they take their antibiotics as prescribed, and not skip any doses, share them with others, or stop taking them when they start to feel better.

“We want to encourage patients to self-manage their symptoms and have the confidence to go to their pharmacy first for help and advice.”

The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign started on Monday (October 23) and will run across England for eight week.

Source: Lancashire Times