Nurses and nursing students are being urged to do their bit in the fight against infection and sign up to become an “antibiotic guardian”, as part of a campaign launched by Public Health England (PHE).
The body is asking healthcare professionals and the public to help combat antibiotic resistance by promising to take at least one step to personally prevent infection and make better use of antibiotics.
“By making just one pledge, such as ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics, we can all fight resistance together”
More than 18,000 people have already become “antibiotic guardians” by making a simple pledge.
The drive coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness and the new World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
It also ties in with this year’s Stay Well This Winter campaign, which aims to boost take-up of the flu jab among at-risk groups, including frontline NHS workers like nurses and midwives.
“Everyone can play a part in tackling antibiotic resistance,” stressed Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope, pharmacist lead for PHE’s antibiotic resistance programme, who is heading the Antibiotic Guardian campaign.
“We often hear about the problem of these vital drugs becoming ineffective but not about what actions individuals can take to help and that is exactly what this campaign provides,” she said.
“By making just one pledge such as taking up the offer of a free flu jab or ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics we can all fight resistance together,” she added.
Pledges specifically aimed at nurses include promising to remind patients to take antibiotics exactly as they have been prescribed, familiarising themselves with best practice and reminding prescribers to review decisions.
For example, this could include flagging up antibiotic prescriptions that have continued for more than seven days without a set end date.
“We need to act now to make sure we behave as responsible stewards of the use of antimicrobial medications”
Pledges for midwives include helping mothers and mothers-to-be understand antibiotics are not necessary for illnesses like colds.
PHE is responsible for delivering four key aspects of the UK’s five-year strategy to help combat antibiotic resistance.
It includes working with healthcare professionals to improve infection prevention and control practice, optimise prescribing practice and improving training and education.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to the delivery of healthcare across the globe,” said NHS England director of patient safety, Dr Mike Durkin.
“We need to act now to make sure we behave as responsible stewards of the use of antimicrobial medications so there incredible elements of medical science can be preserved – not just for our lifetime but for all future generations,” he said.
Nurses, midwives and others can sign up to support the campaign via the antibiotic guardians website.