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Public Health England’s national campaign: Keep Antibiotics Working

Watch the campaign video

On Tuesday 23rd October, Public Health England (PHE) launched the second year of the national campaign ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ highlighting that taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk. To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance – risks at home

  • Over three million surgical operations and cancer treatments a year could become life
    threatening without antibiotics.
  • Despite the clear risks of antibiotic resistance, antibiotics are still being used unnecessarily, jeopardising their use in critical procedures. We have seen improvements in prescribing over the last five years.
  • Antibiotic resistant bloodstream infections continue to rise in England, with a 35% increase from 2013 to 2017.
  • However bloodstream infections have continued to rise: microbiology laboratories are detecting increased numbers of bacteria with resistance in key bug-drug combinations between 2016 and 2017.
  • After antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection children have 13 times the odds of having a drug resistant strain if they get a subsequent urinary infection in the next 6 months.
  • After antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection or respiratory tract infection adults have up to 3 times the odds of a drug resistant infection if they have another infection in subsequent months. This effect peaks at one month.

Antimicrobial resistance – global risks

  • By 2050, deaths attributable to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could be as high as 10 million a year.
  • A failure to address antibiotic resistance could cost £66 trillion in lost productivity to the global economy.
  • Experts predict that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people worldwide than cancer and diabetes combined.
  • Antibiotic resistance adds over £1 billion to hospital treatment and societal costs in the EU.
  • From the 1930s to the 1960s, 14 classes of antibiotic were introduced, but since 1968 there have been only five new drug classes developed. Since 1984, no new registered
    classes of antibiotics for human treatment have been developed.
  • Three cases of extreme drug resistant gonorrhoea have now been detected globally- two in Australia, one in England.

The campaign will also support health care professionals by boosting support for alternatives to prescribing antibiotics. TV, radio and social media will be utilised to provide a broad reach in promoting the campaign.

Leaflets and posters, will be available for healthcare settings including GP surgeries and pharmacists. Resources are available free to healthcare professionals and are available from the PHE campaign resource centre