Taking antibiotics now could kill you in the future.
This is the warning from local consumer champion Healthwatch Torbay, which is working with the NHS to tackle the growing issue of antibiotics resistance.
In recent years bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and no new class of antibiotics has been developed in the past 30 years.
As bacterial resistance grows among the population, it will become more difficult to treat infection, which then affects patient care.
Latest figures show that there are 25,000 deaths across Europe each year because of antibiotic resistance.
Healthwatch Torbay – an independent charity championing patients’ rights – has launched a public survey into the local use and administration of antibiotics, in the hope of improving the process and helping GPs to effectively address public concerns about ailments.
Dr Jo Roberts, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The reality is that antibiotics résistance kills. People should not take them unnecessarily, because taking antibiotics now could kill you in the future.
“If we don’t all heed the warning, in the very near future hip and knee replacements will be a thing of the past because of infection risks.
“Already, some hospitals are seeing patients with a particular infection for which there’s no antibiotic treatment. So it’s essential that we all take steps to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
“Antibiotics are a precious resource and should be preserved. They should only be used when prescribed by a health professional to treat bacterial infections.
“Antibiotics should never be shared, and the full course of treatment should be completed – not saved for the future. This is one of the biggest public health crises of our time.”
Last year, South Devon and Torbay CCG issued thousands of leaflets for GPs to give to patients, outlining why they won’t be prescribed antibiotics if they do not need them. The message is also now on TV screens at South Devon and Torbay GP practices.
The move is supported by Healthwatch Torbay CEO Pat Harris, who is urging the public to take part in the survey.
“As bacterial resistance grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, which then affects patient care; and misusing antibiotics today might mean that infections that were easily treated could once again kill.
“At Healthwatch Torbay, we want to know exactly where we can improve the administration of antibiotics locally to ensure that patient care is not adversely affected. You can help by filling out one of our online surveys and providing us with vital information that will be used to help you both now and in the future. It could really make a difference.”
Healthwatch Torbay’s common illness & antibiotics survey is available online via their website at www.healthwatchtorbay.org.uk/consultation/.
The survey is designed for people who do not have a long-term illness, such as kidney disease, breathing problems, diabetes, heart diseases.
For more information on Healthwatch Torbay – based at Paignton Library – or to rate and review a local service, please visit www.healthwatchtorbay.org.uk or call free on 08000 520 029.