Antibiotics unlikely to be the answer to your winter illness, say GPs in East Staffordshire

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People in East Staffordshire are being urged to be antibiotics aware this winter – and understand that they are unlikely to be the remedy for their coughs, colds and sore throats.

Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection and they work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.

Local GPs are warning that antibiotics are not effective against viral infections such as the common cold and flu or most of the coughs and sore throats that circulate at this time of year.

By being antibiotics aware people can do their bit to help the prevention of ‘antibiotic resistance’, where bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects of the medication.

The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them and they can no longer be used to treat infections – so it is vital that antibiotics are used only in the right way, as prescribed by a doctor.

Dr Judith Crosse, a local GP and lead for East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on antibiotics, said: “Many people wrongly assume that antibiotics are a cure-all remedy for their winter illness – but in reality they have no effect on colds, flu and the majority of coughs and sore throats.

“Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and bacteria find ways to become immune to the antibiotics that we take, making them less effective and in some cases stopping them from working altogether. The more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become – so it’s essential that we use them sensibly.

“We can all to our bit to limit antibiotic resistance - and you can play your part by not expecting your GP to prescribe antibiotics to make your minor winter illness better.

“It’s important to remember that antibiotics aren’t necessarily the answer to your problems and in many cases it’s best to let your body fight off infection by itself.

“A pharmacist may be able to recommend over-the-counter remedies to ease the symptoms of winter illness, so visit your local pharmacy for advice if you’re feeling under the weather.”

When prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to follow your GP’s instructions carefully as improper use can help bacteria to develop a resistance to them.

Never skip doses of antibiotics, save some for later or stop taking them before your course is finished, because even if you’re feeling better there may still be bacteria in your system which can mutate and become resistant.

You should never share your antibiotics with anyone else as you don’t know their medical history.

To find out more about antibiotics go to, or visit if you would like to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian – and make a simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

For further information on staying well this winter visit

‘There’s no place like home’ for a quicker recovery and to ease the pressure on local hospital services

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Senior clinicians across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent are appealing for families to help reduce the pressure on struggling services by supporting patients to return home from hospital as soon as they are ready.

Patients staying longer than necessary in hospital have added to the strain on A&E departments, which are already experiencing increased demand. This has caused even longer delays for patients who arrive requiring a bed.

Doctors are advising families and carers that going home once medically fit to do so has also proven to be better for the patient.
Magnus Harrison, Medical Director of Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We think of a hospital as a place to get better, but spending an unnecessarily long time there can do more harm than good.

Don't let the elderly and vulnerable 'soldier on' this January, say East Staffs GPs

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Local GPs are urging people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours this winter – and make sure they don’t ‘soldier on’ in silence as winter starts to bite.

Older people and those with long-term health conditions are particularly susceptible to illness and isolation at this time of year, yet it can sometimes be difficult for those at risk to admit they need help.

Dr Charles Pidsley of East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says winter is a time when communities should come together to support people in need – and encourage them to seek medical assistance before illness becomes so serious they need to be admitted to hospital.

“All too often we see elderly and vulnerable people having to be treated in hospital for lengthy periods with symptoms that might not have become so serious and could have been managed effectively at home if they’d only sought help sooner.

“This is often the result of people trying to ‘soldier on’ through adversity because they don’t want to cause inconvenience to their families or bother their GP or pharmacist with something they feel is insignificant.

“If you are aged over 75 or you are living with a long-term medical condition such as a respiratory illness, don’t wait when you’re feeling ill – get help straight away. Speak to your local pharmacist first and they’ll either recommend an over-the-counter medicine to alleviate your symptoms, or tell you if you need to see your GP.

“If you have a friend, neighbour or relative who is vulnerable then you can do your bit to help by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter.”

East Staffordshire CCG has the following top tips for how to help elderly and vulnerable people you may know:

• Drop in to see them and check if they are well at least once a week – and more often if the weather turns very cold.

• Check if they are feeling well and don’t let them brush off your questions if you’re concerned they’re trying to hide an illness, particularly if they don’t seem their usual self or they look unwell.

• If they are feeling ill, encourage them to visit their local pharmacist without delay – and give them a lift if you can.

• Ask if you can collect any prescriptions they need or take them to their GP for any appointments.

• Tell them to call 111 if they feel unwell when pharmacies are closed – a trained NHS health care adviser will be able to help them

• Make sure their home is heated to at least 18°C to 21°C throughout the winter.

• Ensure they are eating well and have a good supply of essential and store-cupboard food to keep them going – and offer to help them with shopping if they struggle with mobility.

• Encourage them to get heating and cooking appliances safety checked – and recommend a trustworthy gas and heating engineer or electrician if you know one.

• If it snows, clear their path, front steps or doorway areas for them – or better still, encourage them to stay in.

For more information on staying well this winter visit

East Staffordshire patients advised to use alternatives to A&E

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Health chiefs across East Staffordshire are asking people to consider using alternatives to accident and emergency units.

There has been a large increase in demand locally, and health leaders are reminding people suffering from minor illness or injuries to use options other than A&E and allow the hospital to focus on those people with serious conditions, who need to be seen urgently.

A&E is only for the most serious and life-threatening cases. Alternative sources of care for non-critical ailments are pharmacies, NHS 111, Minor Injuries Units and GP Out-of-Hours services.