Leeds residents urged to take antibiotics seriously this World Antibiotic Awareness Week

The NHS in Leeds will be joining health organisations around the world this week (18-25 November) to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance as a global problem and to encourage people to pledge to do their part to tackle it.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. However, because bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic, the medicines are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate.

According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health – infections are becoming harder to treat and antibiotic resistance is putting people at greater risk if they need chemotherapy or surgery.

To help tackle this problem locally, healthcare professionals across the city are supporting Seriously Resistant (www.seriouslyresistant.com) a local campaign that aims to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and encourage Leeds residents to get involved by pledging to keep antibiotics working.

Dr Gaye Sheerman-Chase, Principal Medical Adviser for Medicines Optimisation at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today, even with the coronavirus pandemic, but just as there are things we can do to slow the spread of Covid, there are also ways that we can slow down antibiotic resistance.

“One thing we can all do is not take antibiotics unless they’re absolutely necessary. For example, colds, flu and most coughs are viral infections, and antibiotics can’t treat those. All you need is plenty of rest and a visit to your local pharmacy for remedies which you can buy over the counter.

“Another important factor is preventing infections in the first place – something we should all be familiar with this year – by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.

“Antibiotics should only be used when we really need them. Listen to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only take antibiotics when necessary. If you are given antibiotics, it’s important that you finish the full course, not save them for future use and never share them with others.”

Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health at Leeds City Council, said: “We share an ambition for Leeds to be the UK city that makes the biggest impact on antibiotic resistance.

“We’re working with healthcare professionals across the city so that we only prescribe antibiotics when it is necessary to do so but we also need the support of all who live and work here to achieve our goal. I’d urge everyone to visit the Seriously website – www.seriouslyresistant.com –  to find out what you, your family and friends can do to help tackle antibiotic resistance  and to pledge to help keep antibiotics working.”