SPECIALIST STAFF at Basildon Hospital added their support to a national campaign to highlight the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
During Antibiotic Awareness Week, pharmacists and doctors spoke to colleagues, patients and visitors about the importance of using antibiotics only when they are absolutely necessary.
The team set up an information stand in the hospital reception area with information, quizzes and a ‘guess the bug’ competition, designed to get clinical staff and patients thinking about how antibiotics should be used.
Paige Cowell, a clinical support worker in the day surgery unit, called at the stand. She said: “I work with patients who have had surgery and for many of them, antibiotics are a vital part of their treatment.
"So I understand how important it is to spread the word and do everything possible to reduce the problem of antibiotic resistance.”
Of the four types of infection – bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic, antibiotics are only effective against the bacterial kind.
But due to over-prescribing, resistance to antibiotics is becoming a global threat, according to scientists. This has serious potential consequences for numerous aspects of medicine, from the treatment of chest infections, to surgery, transplants and some cancer treatments.
Justin Edwards consultant microbiologist at Basildon Hospital, said: “We have an individual and collective responsibility to do all we can to prevent this problem becoming more serious. For doctors this means not prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily, and for patients, understanding there are good reasons for GPs not to give them for most colds, coughs and sore throats.
“Antibiotics are one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century and they have underpinned many of the revolutionary developments in modern medicine. But we have to use them wisely.
“Bacteria are critical for human life but they have an advantage over us because they can divide up to every 20 minutes instead of roughly every 20 years as we can. They can generate resistance way faster than we can develop new antibiotics, which can take many years and prove very expensive.”