Leeds residents urged to take antibiotics seriously

The NHS and health partners in Leeds will be joining health organisations around the world next week (18-24 November) to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance as a global health threat and to encourage people to pledge to do their part to tackle it.

According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health. Drug-resistant infections killed 1.25 million people in the world in 2019, including 141,000 patients in high income countries like the UK. This is estimated to rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if we don’t act now.

Antibiotics kill bacteria or prevent them from spreading, but because bacteria are adapting to survive them, these medicines are becoming less effective.

The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) annual English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance report found that an estimated 58,224 people in England had an antibiotic resistant infection in 2022 – a rise of 4% on the figures for 2021.Also, there were 2,202 deaths as a result of antibiotic resistant infection in 2022, compared with 2,110 in 2021.

Red box saying Antibiotics are not always the right treatment. Not always is underlined.

Dr Gaye Sheerman-Chase, from the Leeds NHS Integrated Care Board, said: “If antibiotics stop working to treat infections, this might stop us from carrying out common healthcare activities such as performing major operations or giving cancer treatments where infections are common, and we need effective antibiotics to prevent them.

“We may see more premature babies, children and adults on intensive care dying from infections. Already, a growing number of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them are becoming less effective.

“That’s why reducing antibiotic use and antibiotic resistant infections is one of the Leeds Health and Care Partnership’s big ambitions – but we need the support of all who live and work here to achieve that goal.”

Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health at Leeds City Council and Chair of the Leeds Health Protection Board said: “Tackling antimicrobial resistance is a priority for everyone working to protect the public’s health in Leeds. We are committed to ensuring that key messages around antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic use are promoted effectively to health & care professionals and within communities.

“We are really proud of the neighbourhood-based education initiatives that have been developed this year for use in primary schools and community settings as part of the Seriously Resistant campaign. These initiatives really emphasise how everyone can play a part in reducing antimicrobial resistance through simple measures such as washing your hands well, keeping up to date with vaccinations and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues”.

There are several ways we can all help tackle AMR:

  • Only use antibiotics when a healthcare professional such as a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist prescribes them.
  • Always take antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Do not save unused antibiotics or share them with friends and family.
  • Take any unused antibiotics to a local pharmacy – do not throw them away of put them down the toilet.
  • Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
  • Antibiotics are not effective in treating any viral infections, such as flu, the common cold, a runny nose or a sore throat. Find out more about common infections, symptoms and treatment here.
  • Become an antibiotic guardian – choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete at https://antibioticguardian.com/
  • Visit the Seriously Resistant website to find out more and help spread the word with your family and friends. Seriously is a campaign originally developed in Leeds that we’re adopting across West Yorkshire to help raise awareness of AMR and educate people how they can help tackle it.
  • Watch and share these short videos produced by NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board about the importance of preventing infection, and helping people need fewer antibiotics –  AMR Animations

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