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Take care, not antibiotics

26 November 2014


With the flu season upon us members of the public may be tempted to ask their doctor for antibiotics in place of rest and over the counter remedies. However, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is advising against the use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu.


There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat winter conditions: 44%* of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu want or think they need antibiotics.


Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. However, winter conditions such as cold and flu are viruses and therefore cannot be treated by antibiotics.


The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms i.e. paracetamol and ibuprofen. Your local pharmacist can advise you on the most effective treatment.


If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, see your doctor.


The routine usage of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to certain bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is resistant to several antibiotics.


Dr Bruce Ella, clinical lead for medicines management at BCCG and GP from Dunstable said:


“By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so, we can slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective when we need them the most.


“We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics and the most effective way to protect yourself from flu is to get a vaccine. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol.”

Notes to editors

·        For further information contact the communications team on 01525 864 406,communications@bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk

  • You can find a symptom checker and information about local NHS services at www.nhs.uk
  • *Data source: http://www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk/
  • MRSA (meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a type of bacterial infection that is resistant to a number of widely used antibiotics. This means it can be more difficult to treat than other bacterial infections.
  •  Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 441,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services
  • BCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. All 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire and all of the 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members.
  • ·         In 2014-2015, BCCG has a budget of approximately £440m to spend on healthcare services for Bedfordshire. You can read more about how BCCG is organised in our constitution. It explains how we operate, make decisions and our governance structures and processes. You can also read our corporate plan which sets out our priorities and aims for 2014-15.

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