Help to save our antibiotics!

The RPS in Scotland and the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group Scottish Medicines Consortium have teamed up to highlight opportunities for pharmacists in Scotland to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) 2015 and contribute to the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major public health issue and an important threat to the future of healthcare. To tackle it we must use antibiotics more wisely and stop inappropriate use.
In 2015, the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) will take place between 16th and 22nd November; alongside other campaigns including European Antibiotic Awareness Day,  and Antibiotics Awareness Week in USA, Australia and Canada which have been in place for several years. NHS Scotland has been supporting EAAD since 2009 with a range of activities and resources in hospital and community settings. This year the key activity is the Antibiotic Guardian campaign led by Public Health England which means we are encouraging all healthcare staff, patients and the public to make a personal pledge to help preserve our antibiotics for future generations.

Pharmacists and other Pharmacy team members can choose to make one of the following pledges:

  • I will check that antibiotic prescriptions comply with local guidance and query those that do not
  • Every time a customer presents with a self-limiting respiratory infection I will use the patient information leaflet to explain the potential duration of illness and how to treat their symptoms
  • When handing out a prescription that includes antibiotics, I will inform the patients of dose and duration and to take their antibiotics exactly as prescribed and to return any unused antibiotics to a pharmacy for safe disposal
  • When customers pick up an antibiotic prescription, I will encourage them to take the Antibiotic Guardian quiz online and to choose their own pledge to become Antibiotic Guardians.

To make your pledge, please visit: We are also promoting Community Pharmacies as the first point of contact for patients with symptoms of minor infections.  All colds and most coughs, sinusitis, otitis media and sore throats often get better without antibiotics an community pharmacists are well placed to help provide advice on over the counter medicines to  treat symptoms. In 2014 a pad of self care leaflets was distributed to all community pharmacies in Scotland and these provided an opportunity to give personalised advice to patients about symptom management and likely symptom duration as well as warning signs that they should consult their doctor. Feedback about the leaflets has been positive and we are promoting the use of these leaflets on an ongoing basis. Further supplies of the pads of leaflets are available on request from the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group.

Together with SAPG, Robert Gordon University is currently taking forward a research project where data collection will be conducted starting in November by their undergraduate 4th years. More information is available in the research proposal, which has been reviewed and approved by RGU ethics, together with the participant information sheet. They are hoping to recruit community pharmacists and other pharmacy staff to evaluate EAAD resources and the RPS in Scotland would encourage as many as possible to support both the fight against antibiotic resistance and the research being taken forward by participating.