Walsall Healthcare is playing its part in World Antibiotic Awareness Week for the first time this year after developing a new strategy for staff, patients and carers to work together to achieve responsible use of the drugs.
The week runs from 12-18 November and aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance as well as establishing Antibiotic Guardians. Antibiotic Guardians was developed in 2014 by Public Health England to encourage health and social care professionals, members of the public and students, educators and scientists to play their part in keeping antibiotics effective.
Dr Aiden Plant is Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s lead for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team. He explained that antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections such as pneumonia, and urinary tract infections but they are ineffective in treating viral infections such as cold and ‘flu yet there is a growing overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
“Antibiotics are, without doubt, one of the most important developments in modern medicine, but they are not a cure-all and antibiotic resistance is an urgent threat to the public’s health,” he said. “Antibiotic resistant bacteria means that conditions that were once easily treatable with antibiotics can become untreatable, leading to dangerous infections. Antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to major problems and even death.”
The Trust has developed a new Antimicrobial Strategy for the upcoming year to help everyone work together to achieve responsible antimicrobial use and ensure these drugs remain effective treatments for our future generations.
“If we use antibiotics effectively we will see our patients get better sooner and home more quickly,” added Dr Plant. “This week also helps focus our patients and their families and carers on the issue. It can be all too easy to think: “I just need a course of antibiotics to sort me out” yet patients wouldn’t ask for other treatments such as chemotherapy so lightly.
“We come across cases where patients have not taken a full course of antibiotics then self-prescribed them later down the line inappropriately and cases where people have given the antibiotics to other family members without a correct diagnosis.”
The World Health Organisation is asking us all to heed the following messages:
Think twice. Seek Advice.
Misuse of Antibiotics puts us all at risk.
Walsall Healthcare’s new strategy covers a range of areas including improved audit, feedback and benchmarking of antimicrobial use to clinical teams and emphasis on teaching and training.