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Dr Sandya TheminimulleHealth Professionals at St Mary’s Hospital are making their pledge to become Antibiotic Guardians and make better use of antibiotics to help save this vital medicine from becoming obsolete and are asking the public to do the same.

The aim of this year’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November is that by 30th November at least 10,000 healthcare professionals and members of the public will have committed to at least one pledge for prudent use of antimicrobials.

Antibiotics treat infections by killing bacteria, but now the bacteria are fighting back. Medicines are becoming less effective which means more deaths and more complications for people receiving treatment in hospital. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy all rely on access to antibiotics that work.

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Dr Sandya Theminimulle, Consultant Microbiologist at St Mary’s Hospital, said:

“Antimicrobials are very precious. The message we are giving to healthcare professionals is to take care when prescribing them.  Antibiotics have an important and often lifesaving role in healthcare, but prescribing them unnecessarily contributes to the problem of bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotics that they would have once been susceptible to.

“People should be aware that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections and they do not work against virus infections such as those causing colds or most coughs. Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them.  When antibiotics are prescribed, it is important that patients always take them as directed and complete the course to get rid of the bacteria completely and so they can stay effective in the future.”

25,000 people die each year across Europe from infections resistant to antibiotics. Research has shown that only 10% of sore throats and 20% of acute sinusitis benefit from antibiotic treatment but the prescription rates are much higher than this.

Everyone can help to preserve antibiotics for the future by taking simple actions.  Don’t ask for them, treat cold and flu symptoms with pharmacist advice and over the counter medicines. Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, never save them for later and never share them with others.

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Leaflets about antibiotic use are being made available on wards and departments at St Mary’s Hospital and hospital staff will be encouraged to increase their knowledge and awareness by participating in fun activities as well as making their pledge.

Anyone can pledge to be an Antibiotic Guardian by visiting www.antibioticguardin.com.

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