Local people in Greenwich are being asked to play an important role in preventing antibiotic resistance as part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November).
Taking antibiotics when they are not needed speeds up the process of antibiotic resistance making it more difficult to treat infections – one of the biggest threats to global health.
Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
"In many circumstances, antibiotics can be life-saving drugs, but if they are not used properly they might not work in the future.
"That's why on this World Antibiotic Awareness Week, we're reminding everyone to make sure that they use antibiotics responsibly and always seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking them."
The chances of antibiotics not working increases when antibiotics are not taken correctly, or when people take antibiotics intended for someone else or that were not prescribed for them by their GP or other NHS clinician.
People who overuse antibiotics can also build up a resistance. Resistance to antibiotics happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause.
Dr Wright added: "The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them.
"It's important that we all use antibiotics as prescribed by our doctor, as well as remembering that in some instances, like with a cold, antibiotics have no effect. Using antibiotics the right way means they are more likely to work when we really need them."
Councillor David Gardner, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:
"The Royal Borough of Greenwich is supporting World Antibiotic Awareness week and urging residents to use antibiotics responsibly to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.
"We will be playing reminders on the Big Screen in General Gordon Square throughout the week and using social media to help spread the message."
Every winter there is a rise in people demanding antibiotics from their GP for viral infections such as colds and flu, but antibiotics do not kill viruses.
When experiencing cold or flu symptoms, the best thing to do is drink plenty of water, get lots of rest and let your body fight the virus. For relief from symptoms such as a sore throat or aches and pains, your local pharmacist can recommend medicines that can help – with no need for a prescription.