Public Health England’s (PHE) ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign is returning later this month to alert the public to the risks of antibiotic resistance and to urge them to take their healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics.
Where antibiotics have not been prescribed, people are being encouraged to take advice on how to manage their condition from their local pharmacy.
In the last four years, England has seen a decline in antibiotic prescribing for the first time since 2002 and the UK government has made significant investments at home and abroad in research, development and surveillance. However, despite these positive trends, research shows that 20% of antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately with a large disparity between the actual versus what experts consider the ideal number of prescriptions.
The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign launched in 2017 and as part of that campaign, Treat Your Infection non-prescription pads were distributed in GP practices; and 97% of patients said they found the non-prescription pad helpful. This year a bespoke version of the leaflets specifically for pharmacists has been developed so pharmacists can provide advice to people about how to manage respiratory tract infections.
The pads are branded ‘Help Us Help You’, an evolution from the Stay Well This Winter brand. Help Us Help You is an overarching brand which unifies a family of campaigns incorporating messages about flu, staying well in winter, NHS111, pharmacy and GP extended hours. It encourages people to take appropriate actions (be that getting the flu vaccination or accessing the appropriate service) to better enable the NHS to help them.)
Sandra Gidley, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society England, said: “Pharmacists have an important role to play in efforts to reduce expectations for antibiotics by encouraging patients to manage their symptoms and pain with over the counter remedies for minor ailments when antibiotics are not prescribed.
“The Treat Your Infection non-prescription pad highlights the important role of self-care in a format that is easy for patients to understand and I’m very optimistic about their roll out in pharmacies this year. I think pharmacists will find them a very valuable tool for talking to patients about the best ways to treat symptoms of illness such as coughs, colds and sore throats.”
New resources to help pharmacies support the campaign are available from: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/