A SOLIHULL woman who retired from the NHS while battling cancer has backed a campaign to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’.
The campaign launched by Public Health England (PHE) is alerting the public to the risks of antibiotic resistance, urging them to always take their doctor, nurse or healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics.
A report by PHE shows blood stream infections caused by bugs resistant to one or more key antibiotics have risen by 35 per cent in four years from 12,250 in 2013 to 16,504 in 2017.
It said more than three million common procedures such as cesarean sections and hip replacements, as well as cancer treatments, which require antibiotics to prevent infections could become deadly without working drugs.
Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, but PHE claims it is frequently being used to treat illnesses such as coughs, earache and sore throats that can get better by themselves.
Sue Lee, from Solihull, retired from her job as a radiographer in the NHS last year due to illness from lung cancer, diagnosed nearly 10 years ago.
The 54-year-old said: “I was first diagnosed with lung cancer nearly 10 years ago which spread to my spine.
“A few years later I developed another tumour in my lung, which also went on to spread.
“The cancer itself and chemotherapy I was given to treat it really knocked out my immune system, making me susceptible to infection.
“I’ve had some nasty infections; some of the nastier ones could have been life-threatening if antibiotics hadn’t worked.
“That’s why it’s so important that we preserve these precious drugs for when we need them most.”
The campaign also provides effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.
Dr Musarrat Afza, health protection consultant and AMR lead for PHE West Midlands, said: “As a result of bugs becoming more resistant, we are looking at a possible future where many more cancer patients, mothers having caesareans, and patients having other surgeries face life threatening situations if we cannot ward off infections.
“That’s why we’re asking people to only take antibiotics when advised by their GP, pharmacist or nurse.
“Antibiotics are important for treating serious bacterial infections like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis – but they are of no use for colds, coughs and sore throats, which generally get better by themselves.
“Taking antibiotics just in case may seem like a harmless act but it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health in future.”