Gloucestershire antibiotic prescribing down 8%

There is real concern in the medical world that we are running out of new antibiotics and as more resistant bugs, like MRSA and clostridium difficile, emerge this could have disastrous consequences for the health of the nation. Just 100 years ago, before the widespread use of antibiotics, life expectancy was much shorter than today and people didn’t die of heart disease and cancer, they died of infections and accidents. Today we are hearing of advances and breakthroughs in medicine that are looking to tackle the big killers in 21st century Britain, but how awful would it be if we found the cure to cancer only to find ourselves back in Victorian times where people die young from infectious diseases? If we are not careful that is precisely where we could be and the implications are massive. Routine operations would become unacceptably risky as post operative infections would be potentially fatal.
So I was really pleased to hear this week that antibiotic prescribing in Gloucestershire is down by 8% and there is a similar picture across the rest of the West Country. This is good news for all of us. We need to save antibiotics and target them where they are needed. We know that most coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses not bacteria and antibiotics have no action against viruses, but giving them in this scenario only allows the background bacteria the opportunity to mutate and become resistant. So today is a good news day and a reminder that when the cold season starts this autumn, we should be heading for the pharmacy and not the GP surgery.