A campaign to educate the public on the use of antibiotics was launched last month by chief medical officer Professor Liam Donaldson following concern about antibiotic resistance.
It is hoped that the £1.3m campaign will combat the overprescription of antibiotics .
Donaldson warned that those suffering colds and coughs should not expect to be given prescriptions, explaining that antibiotics are not effective on viral infections. He said: “Patients should not be surprised if their GPs suggest other ways of dealing with symptoms.”
He added: “The overuse of antibiotics poses a major health challenge. Essentially, antibiotics are very important drugs designed to treat specific illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis.”
He continued: “Already some are becoming less effective at fighting those infections and if we continue to use them inappropriately more bacteria will become resistant to them.”
The Patients Association (PA) is supporting the campaign, which follows the recommendations of two recent reports on the use of antibiotics. “If patients are given antibiotics when they don’t need them they can only do more harm than good in the long run,” said Claire Rayner, head of the PA.
“Some bacteria are already resistant to antibiotics. Unless we take action, as this campaign urges, it will become increasingly difficult to find an antibiotic when one is really needed,” she added.