European antibiotic awareness day
Antimicrobial resistance - stemming a healthcare time bomb

European Antibiotic Awareness Day

Monday, 18th November 2013

The UK Government recently published its Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013-18 setting out how it aims to tackle the problem, one of the most significant public health threats today. The strategy aims to address the challenges we face around antimicrobial resistance.

Earlier this month Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England told ITV's Tonight programme how we could be facing a very challenging future for relatively routine operations like hip or knee replacements if our stocks of antibiotics are not used judiciously. Without effective antibiotics surgery will be risky as we could be in a position where we get an infection that will not respond to antibiotics.

She said "you could get a joint infection where that goes on forever after or a blood infection where you die." "I worry for my children and if they have children."

Antibiotic resistant infections account for 25,000 deaths a year across Europe, 10% are in the UK.

Members of MRSA Action UK know only too well the consequences of losing the battle with an antibiotic resistant superbug, and when Vice Chair Sue Fallon spoke on the tonight programme, she showed the stark reality of when the drugs don't work. Her daughter Sammie, 17 was one of the many people who die as a consequence of contracting a superbug.

Sammie Fallon, who died with MRSA aged 17

"The most precious things I've got are Sammie's memories.. " - Sue Fallon, Sammie's mum and Vice Chair, MRSA Action UK

Professor Chris Butler, a South Wales GP and university academic, recently led a study that estimates 1.6 million unnecessary prescriptions were being handed out every year by GPs across Britain for illnesses they can't possibly cure.

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) have launched the 'NICHE' antibiotic prescribing campaign - offering all prescribers five moments to make a difference and prevent antibiotic resistance!

NICHE is an electronic poster campaign with its acronym inviting prescribers to consider the following:

Need (for antibiotic)

Investigation (cultures for prescribing)

Choice (spectrum of antibiotic)

How Long (is your prescription for)

Evaluate (your patient and prescription)

Posters are available in pop art, info graphic and diagrammatic formats, with the info graphic version available for both hospital and community settings. The society encourages clinicians to download and display these locally, helping ensure the messages on sensible prescribing reach as many people as possible. The downloadable posters are available from BSAC's website.

Read more about the ITV Tonight Programme and Sammie.

Useful links:

Antibiotic Action

MRSA Action UK

UK 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018

If you or someone you care about has been affected by a healthcare infection and you wish to discuss this with us, please contact us at