Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group


Blog: Antibiotic resistance - how could it affect you?

28 July 2017

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Dr Chirag Bakhai, Clinical Director at Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP talks about antibiotic resistance.

In my everyday work as a GP in Luton, I see the consequences of antibiotic resistance. Our first-line treatment for urinary tract infections has recently changed because our previous choice faces such antibiotic resistance that it is no longer a good option. The antibiotics that we have used for years are not working as well as before. We see urinary tract infections which are resistant to multiple different antibiotics. Without effective treatment, such infections could potentially lead to sepsis and even become fatal.

Antibiotic resistance is a major concern worldwide - and it could affect everyone. There are many infections which are becoming much more difficult to treat. The antibiotics which used to work for these infections are no longer effective and, in some cases, there are no effective treatments left at all. This is extremely worrying. Some of these infections, like tuberculosis, may seem more remote, but others such as urinary tract infections are commonly seen every day in every GP practice. It is estimated that over 12,000 people in the UK die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections.

Resistance comes about because some bacteria can be left behind by an antibiotic, particularly if used inappropriately. These tend to be the individual bacteria that the antibiotic does not work well against. The bacteria then multiply and an antibiotic-resistant strain is created. Many people have heard of MRSA. This stands for methicillin-resistant staphyloccus aureus and is perhaps the most notorious example of antibiotic resistance. This is a strain of bacteria that used to respond to penicillin. Over time, through continued use of penicillin, resistance has developed. Infection with this strain can no longer be treated with penicillin and instead generally needs treatment with other intravenous antibiotics, potentially with serious side effects.

Before antibiotics were discovered, people commonly died from infections like pneumonia. Surgery was extremely dangerous because people would often die from wound infections. The overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics has meant that such infections will probably be more difficult to treat in the future. Without effective antibiotics, much of what we do in modern healthcare will no longer be possible, with devastating outcomes for the population.  We must take action now to look at how we manage antibiotics to slow their decline ineffectiveness.

We also commonly see people requesting antibiotics for viral infections like colds and the flu, sometimes when they have been ill for just a few days. Antibiotics do not work for these illnesses. Instead, the antibiotics may give side effects, like sickness and diarrhoea, destroy the ‘good bacteria’ in the gut, and worsen the problem of antibiotic resistance. The vast majority of people will be able to fight off these infections without any medications at all and just need to rest at home and drink plenty of fluids. 


You can help the fight against antibiotic resistance by following some simple steps:

  • If antibiotics are prescribed to treat an infection, make sure they are taken exactly as directed by the prescribing clinician. They may suggest stopping the antibiotics ‘early’ if you feel better or they may suggest a certain length of treatment.

  • When following these directions, do not skip any doses of your prescribed antibiotic.

  • Do not save antibiotics for later or share antibiotics with others.

  • Do not request antibiotics for infections like cold and flu. Treat yourself at home or seek the help of your local pharmacist to manage your symptoms.

  • Visit to see ways of treating common illnesses at home.

You may have recently heard the suggestion from some experts that, in certain situations, shorter courses of antibiotics should be used or that antibiotics should be stopped early once people feel better. More research is clearly needed into how antibiotics should be prescribed. However, if you are prescribed antibiotics, always follow the directions given by the prescribing clinician.

Help us to slow resistance to antibiotics. Take a pledge and sign up to become an antibiotic guardian for Luton and help raise awareness:

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