A NEW campaign has been launched in the district to tackle overuse of antibiotics.

Health chiefs are urging people to always follow the advice of their doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Bradford districts and Craven are being targeted as part of the Public Health England Keep Antibiotics Working initiative.

Patients are warned that taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases the risk of contracting a more severe or longer lasting infection, because treatment options decrease as antibiotic resistance grows.

Dr Roohi Azam, a GP and the clinical prescribing lead at Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "As GPs we have a huge role to play in working with people to ensure antibiotics are prescribed appropriately and only when required. This campaign is a fantastic way to reinforce these messages.

"Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered almost 90 years ago. This revolutionised medicine as diseases that caused life-threatening illnesses became curable.

"But gradually over time, another problem has emerged and the terrifying reality is that some infections are now resistant to antibiotics which stop working effectively.

"Antibiotics do not work against all common infections, as many are often caused by viruses, and sometimes the best remedy is time and rest.

"Your local pharmacist is often best placed to give expert advice on simple remedies first and many treatments for common illnesses can be purchased over the counter.

"Of course you should see your GP if you are worried about an illness, as they will give you the most appropriate advice on how to manage your symptoms further."

It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths a year nationally occur because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.

And the figure is set to rise, with experts predicting that in just over 30 years, antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Paul Cosford, for Public Health England, said: "The Keep Antibiotics Working campaign helps to explain the risks of antibiotic resistance to the public.

"It is important for people to understand that if they are feeling under the weather and see their GP or a nurse, antibiotics may not be prescribed if they are not effective for their condition, but they should expect to have a full discussion about how to manage their symptoms."

For more details about antibiotics and their use, search NHS Antibiotics online.