Skip to the content


Campaign launched to make people more aware of antibiotic overuse and misuse

A campaign launched today (Monday 18th) to make people more aware of antibiotic overuse and misuse.

It is part of World Antibiotics Awareness week and is aimed at alerting people to strains of bacteria which can’t be treated by antibiotics currently on the market.

Bacteria are continually adapting to develop new ways of withstanding antibiotic treatment. This is called antibiotic resistance and it runs the risk of spreading between different bacteria in our bodies and being spread to other people.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a major factor causing antibiotic resistance. The more often a person takes antibiotics, the more likely they are to develop antibiotic resistant bacteria in the body. To reduce this risk, it is important that antibiotics are taken only when necessary and patients follow advice given by the doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections such as meningitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. They don’t work on viruses so can’t treat infections like colds and flu.

There are simple actions you can take to help keep antibiotics working:

  • Don’t ask for antibiotics if you have a cough or cold. Antibiotics should only be taken for bacterial infections. Many infections get better on their own, without the need for antibiotics. Go to your pharmacist for advice first.
  • If the doctor does prescribe you with antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed; never save them for later and never share them with others.
  • Spread the word. Tell your friends and family about antibiotic resistance. You can also help prevent infections spreading by:
  • Using tissues and disposing of them when you sneeze.
  • Washing hands thoroughly with soap, especially after you have used a tissue or sneezed into your hand.
  • Get the flu vaccine if you or your child is eligible.

Sanjay Desai, Associate Director of Medicines Optimisation for Berkshire West CCG said: “Antibiotic resistance is a complex problem – overuse and misuse of antibiotics is creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria against which none of our current antibiotics work. The race is on to develop new antibiotics to kill these resistant strains but, if we don’t win that race, we could face a future in which antibiotics no longer work. That could mean a return to the pre-antibiotic age, where people with compromised immune systems may not recover from common infections and deaths in childbirth, or from infected wounds, or pneumonia were commonplace.

“You could also consider becoming an Antibiotic Guardian to spread the word about sensible use of antibiotics to your friends and family,” Sanjay added.

World Antibiotics Awareness Week (18th - 24th November 2019) is initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) & supported by the Public Health England (PHE) Campaign #KeepAntibioticsWorking

If you need medical help and are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 for help and advice. They are available 24 hours a day.