Antibiotics aren’t always the answer to winter illnesses

MESSAGE ... Ann Fox, director of nursing, quality and safety for NHS South Tyneside CCG.
MESSAGE ... Ann Fox, director of nursing, quality and safety for NHS South Tyneside CCG.

HEALTH experts are urging South Tynesiders to keep calm this winter by reminding them that antibiotics aren’t always the answer.

GPs in the borough are using the NHS’s “Keep Calm” campaign to highlight their concerns about the public’s perception that antibiotics are the stock solution to many common winter ailments.

Nine out of 10 doctors have revealed that patients visiting them in their surgery expect to be prescribed antibiotics for winter ailments, when, in actual fact, the drugs have little or no effect with coughs and colds.

Ann Fox, director of nursing, quality and safety for NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, which represents the borough’s GP practices, said: “What we really need is an honest conversation between doctor and patient that asks, ‘are these absolutely necessary?’ or ‘can we save them until we really need them?’

“It’s important that we use antibiotics in the right way, at the right dose to ensure they are most effective.

“Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of antibiotic, becoming resistant so that the antibiotic no longer works.

“The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it.”

The “keep calm, antibiotics aren’t always the answer” plea is one of three key messages being highlighted by NHS organisations across the region, to try to stop A&E services being put under pressure.

The other two are to “keep calm and ask for a pharmacist” and to “keep calm and ring 111”.

Ms Fox added: “The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is plenty of fluids and rest. For more advice, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.”

For more information, visit www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk

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