Half of patients expect antibiotics for coughs and colds

Half of patients expect to be prescribed antibiotics for coughs and colds, a Health Protection Agency (HPA) survey has found.

10% of patients admitted they kept a supply of left over antibiotics at home
10% of patients admitted they kept a supply of left over antibiotics at home

A poll of 1,767 found that 53% of adults who had recently visited their GP with a respiratory tract infection were expecting antibiotics. In addition, 97% said that the last time they asked their GP or nurse for an antibiotic they were prescribed one.

One in 10 people also admitted they kept a supply of left over antibiotics at home. But 70% of respondents said they recognised that antibiotic resistance was a problem in the UK.

The HPA conducted the poll ahead of European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November.

Dr Cliodna McNulty, the HPA’s head of primary care and lead on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, said health professionals needed ‘to learn to resist demands from patients for treatments they know have little or no effect on coughs and colds’.

'Although the public recognises resistance as a problem, our findings show that people expect, and are often prescribed, antibiotics for mild illnesses such as coughs, colds and sore throats, she said.

'Most coughs, colds and flu are caused by viruses and these do not respond to treatment using antibiotics, she added. 'Some people, particularly those with underlying health conditions, may suffer with complications as a result of these illnesses and should seek medical attention but the majority of people can treat themselves at home using OTC medicines to relieve symptoms.'

A report on antibiotic stewardship has also been issued by a group including RCGP prescribing lead Dr Martin Duerden and DoH advisers to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

The report recommended that GP adopt a delayed prescribing model and use risk calculators to identify patients at risk of side effects of antibiotic treatment.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

£20 notes spread out

VAT trap for PCNs could strip millions of pounds from general practice

Tens of millions of pounds could be stripped from general practice because work carried...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Is the BMA representing GPs effectively, why GPs face a pension tax hit, and views on the workload crisis

In our regular news review the team discusses representation of GPs, a new survey...

Man sleeping

NICE guidance on insomnia backs app to replace sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people with insomnia could be offered treatment via a mobile...

Health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine

JCVI backs autumn COVID-19 booster campaign for high-risk adults and NHS staff

Frontline health and social care staff and adults at increased risk of severe illness...

GP consultation

Government accused of 'misleading' claims on general practice workforce

GP leaders have accused the government of making misleading claims about the general...

Consulting room door

LMC calls for enhanced access to be scrapped after abuse forces practice to close reception

A Midlands LMC has backed a practice forced to close its reception desk after abuse...