Public Health England (PHE)’s ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign returns today (23 October) to alert the public to the risks of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and encourage them to seek advice from their local pharmacy when antibiotics are not required. To support pharmacy teams in offering this advice, PHE has created a Treat Your Infection non-prescription pad.
Despite the rise of antibiotic resistance, 38 per cent of patients who seek medical attention expect antibiotics for a cough, flu or a throat, ear, sinus or chest infection. The Treat Your Infection non-prescription pads, which were distributed to GPs last year, proved popular with 97 per cent of patients saying that they found it helpful. As such, PHE and NHS England have developed a bespoke version for pharmacists to use as a cue for infection-related self care conversations.
Research amongst pharmacy professionals found that more than 75 per cent agree they have a key part to play in helping to control antibiotic use and 97 per cent acknowledged the importance of pharmacists giving self care advice to patients for common infections.
Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope, lead pharmacist for AMR at PHE, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a very real risk and pharmacists have a vital role to play in helping to tackle this issue by promoting self care as an alternative to antibiotics when they are not needed.”
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, added: “The Treat Your Infection non-prescription pad highlights the important role of self care in a format that is easy for patients to understand and I’m very optimistic about their roll out in pharmacies this year.”
PHE’s ‘English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance’ (ESPAUR) report published to coincide with the campaign's launch, highlights how more than three million common procedures such as cesarean sections and hip replacements could become life-threatening without antibiotics.
Despite positive trends in declining antibiotic prescribing rates over the last four years, 20 per cent of antibiotics are still prescribed inappropriately with a large disparity between what is actually prescribed and what experts consider the ideal number of prescriptions.