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The rise of the superbugs, GPs and personalised smear tests

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 18 November.

A deadly wave of superbugs resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics threatens the readers of many of today’s papers – including the Daily Mail. The paper says that over-use of existing medicines has been fuelled by complacency among governments and the public who fail to recognise the looming crisis.

In an article in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, Professor Laura Piddock, of the School of Immunity and Infection at Birmingham University and president of the British Society for Antimicrobial Therapy, warns the world is being pushed towards the ‘unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections’, according to the Mail

The warning comes as the Health Protection Agency released a survey showing half of patients visiting their GP with respiratory infections still expect to get an antibiotic.

The survey, reported in the Guardian among others, says GPs prescribe antibiotics to 97% of patients on request, despite increasing resistance to the drugs.

Some 20% of adults consulted for the study said they had made an appointment to see their doctor for a recent respiratory tract infection, such a sore throat or flu. Of these, 53% expected to be prescribed antibiotics and 25% said they believed antibiotics worked on most coughs and colds.

The HPA said GPs need to learn to resist demands from patients for treatments they know have little or no effect on coughs and colds, the Guardian said.

The Mail also reports on a study suggesting women need a new personalised approach for cervical smears. The study found that most women’s experiences of the test is a negative one and they feel the screening process impersonal. 

Interviews with 34 women by Dr Natalie Armstrong of the University of Leicester reported in the International Journal of Family Practice found the smear test puts women through stress, anxieties and pain.