Postcards spell out why antibiotics may not be on offer

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Some patients will soon be coming away from appointments with their GP with something they weren’t expecting.

A campaign is being launched aimed at letting patients know about the benefits and the limitations of antibiotics.

GPs will be handing out postcards explaining why they are not prescribing antibiotics for a range of common conditions such as coughs and colds, minor ear infections and sore throats.

CCG lead pharmacist Dr Manir Hussain, Deputy Director for Primary Care and Medicines Optimisation said: “There is no doubt that in the past too many antibiotics have been prescribed and now some patients expect to come away from an appointment with a prescription for them.

“Instead they may now get a postcard which explains why antibiotics are not being prescribed, how long their condition may last, how best to take care of themselves, and what to do if symptoms get worse or don’t improve.”

Antibiotics are not effective against viruses so have no impact on colds. Other conditions do not require antibiotics because they will get better without them.

Dr Hussain said: “We should not be prescribing medicines that are not needed. Instead patients with conditions such as colds are advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids and control symptoms with over-the-counter medicines from their local pharmacy.

“We really need people to understand this is not about denying anyone treatment, but making sure they get the most appropriate care and advice. We should use antibiotics for cases where they are needed.”