Antibiotics Awareness Week

Public Health England’s national campaign: Keep Antibiotics Working

On Tuesday 23rd October, Public Health England (PHE) launched the second year of the national campaign ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ highlighting that taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk. To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on antibiotics.

Watch the campaign video.

Antimicrobial resistance – risks at home

  • Over three million surgical operations and cancer treatments a year could become life threatening without antibiotics
  • Despite the clear risks of antibiotic resistance, antibiotics are still being used unnecessarily, jeopardising their use in critical procedures. We have seen improvements in prescribing over the last five years
  • Antibiotic resistant bloodstream infections continue to rise in England, with a 35% increase from 2013 to 2017
  • However, bloodstream infections have continued to rise: microbiology laboratories are detecting increased numbers of bacteria with resistance in key bug-drug combinations between 2016 and 2017
  • After antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection children have 13 times the odds of having a drug resistant strain if they get a subsequent urinary infection in the next 6 months
  • After antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection or respiratory tract infection adults have up to 3 times the odds of a drug resistant infection if they have another infection in subsequent months. This effect peaks at one month

Antimicrobial resistance – global risks

  • By 2050, deaths attributable to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could be as high as 10 million a year
  • A failure to address antibiotic resistance could cost £66 trillion in lost productivity to the global economy
  • Experts predict that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people worldwide than cancer and diabetes combined
  • Antibiotic resistance adds over £1 billion to hospital treatment and societal costs in the EU
  • From the 1930s to the 1960s, 14 classes of antibiotic were introduced, but since 1968 there have been only five new drug classes developed. Since 1984, no new registered classes of antibiotics for human treatment have been developed
  • Three cases of extreme drug resistant gonorrhoea have now been detected globally- two in Australia, one in England

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today.

Why it is relevant to you

Without effective antibiotics, many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy and animal health all rely on access to antibiotics that work.

What we want you to do

To slow resistance we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics. We invite the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, to become Antibiotic Guardians.

Call to action

Choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

To pledge, please visit