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Home > News > World Antibiotic Awareness Week - Cumbrian clinicians appeal for support to help preserve our antibiotics

World Antibiotic Awareness Week - Cumbrian clinicians appeal for support to help preserve our antibiotics

Posted on Monday 12th November 2018
World Antibiotic Awareness Week - Cumbrian clinicians appeal for support to help preserve our antibiotics

As part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Cumbrian clinicians are appealing for patients to understand that antibiotics will not cure everything, and there is a very big risk if they are used incorrectly.

Medical professionals are stressing that illnesses including viral infections, most coughs and colds, sinusitis, ear infections and sore throats, all get better without antibiotics, as your body can usually fight them on its own.

Antibiotics are essential medicines used in both humans and animals to treat bacterial infections.

There are now very real concerns that antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate, as bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic, becoming ‘antibiotic resistant’.

Clinicians are advising that if we were to lose effective antibiotics, it would cause many routine treatments to become increasingly dangerous. Procedures from setting broken bones to basic operations, and even chemotherapy rely on the use of antibiotics that work.

Clive Graham, Consultant Medical Microbiologist at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have seen a reduction in antimicrobial prescribing by General Practitioners this year, but the total use remains significantly above national average (1.174 v 1.034).

“Antimicrobial resistance is an ever present threat, and prudent use of these drugs is the best way of preserving them for future use.”

Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Antibiotic resistance is not a distant threat, but is in fact one of the most dangerous public health crises facing us today. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated with antibiotics.

“Without urgent action from all of us, common infections, minor injuries and routine operations will become much riskier. The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign helps to explain the risks of antibiotic resistance to the public.

“It is important for people to understand that if they are feeling under the weather and see their GP or a nurse, antibiotics may not be prescribed if they are not

Issued: 12 November 2018

Embargo: Immediate

effective for their condition, but they should expect to have a full discussion about how to manage their symptoms.”

Community pharmacists are well placed to help provide advice on over the counter medicines to treat symptoms and help with self-care.

This week (from 12 – 18 November) is World Antibiotic Awareness Week, and European Antibiotic Awareness Day is on 18 November.

To help slow antibiotic resistance, everyone, from members of the public to the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, are invited to become Antibiotic Guardians.

You can find out more about becoming an Antibiotic Guardian, and choose a simple pledge to help tackle antibiotic resistance at (it takes less than 3 minutes and it is free!). The campaign asks you to choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete. <Ends> Notes to Editors More information on Public Health England’s national campaign: Keep Antibiotics Working, can be found online at:

Another piece of work taking place to reduce the prescribing of unnecessary antibiotics is the Antibiotic Review Kit (ARK) Hospital Programme.

The ARK programme seeks to address the issue of antibiotics not being stopped when they are no longer needed in hospitals:

When sick patients arrive at hospital, doctors have to try to identify whether they have a bacterial infection, viral infection, or another illness altogether. This is difficult and can take a long time, because initially the symptoms can be very similar (e.g. cough, temperature), so it makes sense to give antibiotics initially.

Department of Health guidance recommends stopping antibiotics when it becomes clear that they aren’t needed anymore, and this sometimes doesn’t happen; for example, if healthcare staff think ‘just in case’ or ‘better safe than sorry’, or because of the myth that antibiotic courses must be completed to avoid resistance.

Where there is no good evidence on how best to encourage doctors to stop giving unnecessary antibiotics in hospitals and changing behaviour is hard, the ARK programme has developed a package of measures to help healthcare staff stop antibiotics when they are no longer needed, and by testing this package to see if it reduces overall antibiotic use.

For more information on the elements that make up this work, please visit:

For more information, please contact Kieron Bradshaw on: 01768 245437 or