Join the fight against antibiotic resistance

07 November 2018

This World Antibiotic Awareness Week, GPs are asking the people of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge to join the global movement to fight antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics are a vital tool for modern medicine. Not only are they vital in treating infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis; we also need them to avoid infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery.

Every winter there is a rise in people demanding antibiotics from their GP for viral infections such as colds and flu, but antibiotics do not kill viruses.

Antibiotics are unlike many other drugs, as the more we use them the less effective they become. With antibiotics, overuse or inappropriate use allows bacteria to develop resistance.

If we don’t address this issue now, in 30 years’ time we will see antibiotic resistance kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Dr Gurkirit Kalkat, a local GP and clinical lead for prescribing at Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as well as co-chair of the North East London Antimicrobial Resistance Stewardship Group, said: “In many circumstances, antibiotics can be life-saving drugs, but if they are not used properly they might not work in the future.

“That’s why this World Antibiotic Awareness Week, we’re reminding everyone to make sure that they use antibiotics responsibly and always seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking them.

“The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them. It’s important that we all use antibiotics as prescribed by our doctor, as well as remembering that in some instances, like with a cold, antibiotics have no effect. Using antibiotics the right way means they are more likely to work when we really need them.”

The chances of antibiotics not working increases when they are not taken correctly, the full course of antibiotics is unfinished or when people take antibiotics intended for someone else or that were not prescribed for them.

When experiencing cold or flu symptoms, the best thing to do is drink plenty of water, get lots of rest and let your body fight the virus. For relief from symptoms such as a sore throat or aches and pains, your local pharmacist can recommend medicines that can help – with no need for a prescription.

To find out if you are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination or to arrange to get your vaccine, contact your GP practice or pharmacist for more information.