THE organisation in charge of planning health care services in Basingstoke is warning residents about the potential health risks of using antibiotics when they are not needed.

A new campaign launched by Public Health England (PHE) and delivered by the North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) aims to highlight taking antibiotics when not needed puts people and their families at risk.

PHE estimates that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections as people have grown immune to the effect of antibiotics.

North Hampshire CCG has been successful in reducing its prescribing of antibiotic items. Over the last twelve months there has been a three per cent reduction, compared to the average reduction across England of 1.82 per cent.

Ruth Ellenby, a North Hampshire CCG pharmacist and antibiotics champion said: “We have seen the reduction in antibiotic prescribing due to excellent engagement with our GPs, diligent prescribing and good antibiotic stewardship. Increased public awareness through our past campaigns also contributes, along with help from our community pharmacies and good adherence to local antibiotic guidelines.”

Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but are frequently used to treat coughs, earache and sore throats that can get better by themselves.

Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside people to become resistant.

The Keep Antibiotics Working campaign urges patients in North Hampshire to always trust their doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when they need antibiotics.

Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE said: “Antibiotic resistance is not a distant threat, but is in fact one of the most dangerous global crises facing the modern world today. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated with antibiotics.”

“Without urgent action from all of us, common infections, minor injuries and routine operations will become much riskier.”