The publication of the ‘UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018’ highlights that, faced with the growing and substantial risk of antibiotic resistance, more needs to be done to put the message across that antibiotics don’t work and shouldn’t be used for viral infections such as coughs, colds and ‘flu.
To help with this, the Self Care Forum has produced fact sheets for use in general practice consultations which include information for patients on the normal duration of symptoms and the ‘red flag’ symptoms that indicate when medical intervention is required. The fact sheets resulted from research suggesting that many people visit their GP too soon for coughs and colds because they are not sure of how long the symptoms should normally last for, or the symptoms that signal something more serious is wrong.
The AMR strategy lists as an area for action, ‘improving professional education, training and public engagement to improve clinical practice and promote wider understanding of the need for more sustainable use of antibiotics’. This supports the work of the Self Care Forum with fact sheets for cough and sore throat symptoms (more are in development) and our support of European Antibiotic Awareness Day each year on 18th November.
We are spreading the word on the need to support people to self care when they can and visit the NHS when they need to and to do this we believe people need information about the time during which self care is safe and the red flags which mean they should seek medical help. We need this to be supported by all who communicate with patients and public so that there’s consistency in the message no matter which NHS touch point is accessed.