Patients should not put pressure on their GPs to prescribe antibiotics according to a TV and social media advertising campaign that will run across England for the next two months.
The Keep Antibiotics Working programme, launching today, features musical antibiotics singing about the grave threat of resistance and warning patients to ‘always take your doctor’s advice’.
It will also provide practices with leaflets and posters for the surgery to aid conversations with patients and in the run-up to winter.
The national programme follows a successful pilot in the North West of England earlier this year, which reported a six percentage point decrease in the number of patients asking their GP for antibiotics.
The number of GPs reporting they were frequently asked to prescribe antibiotics also fell in the pilot, by almost 10%.
The campaign, being run by Public Health England, says it tackles the lack of patient understanding about when antibiotics are appropriate.
The website says: ‘Research shows that inappropriate prescribing is, in part, due to patients expecting or demanding antibiotics, without understanding whether that they may not be effective for their illness.’
It will be aimed at women 20-45 who, the website says, typically take responsibility for doctor’s visits and care giving, and patients over 50 with recurrent conditions.
An example of the resources for practices says: ‘Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk – take your doctor’s advice’.
In a letter to health professionals, England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies writes: ‘The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness of taking antibiotics when you don’t need them, in turn supporting the efforts of local doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners in reducing inappropriate prescribing due to patient pressure.
‘The campaign encourages the public to take their doctor or nurse’s advice when it comes to the need for antibiotics.
‘I urge you to support this campaign by ordering the campaign GP resource pack, displaying them prominently and using them in your interactions with patients and the public.’
Every year around 5,000 deaths are caused in England due to antibiotic resistance and some studies predict that, in 30 years, resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.
This campaign is intended to continue the significant strides made by the profession in cutting antibiotic prescribing.
Around 2.5 million fewer prescriptions have been issued by GPs since the launch of the Government’s Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy in 2013 – a 13% decrease in three years from a peak in 2014.
It will also help hit the target of halving inappropriate antibiotic prescribing by 2020.