Medics urge public to return unused antibiotics

An 'antibiotic amnesty' is being held this month, with people across Shropshire urged to play their part.

An antibiotic amnesty is taking place
An antibiotic amnesty is taking place

Local healthcare leaders at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are encouraging members of the public, as well as health and social care staff, to return old or unused antibiotics to their nearest pharmacy.

Pharmacies throughout Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are supporting the month-long amnesty, which is taking place throughout November.

The aim is to promote the safe disposal of antibiotics, while raising awareness of how the misuse of antibiotics has contributed to medications becoming less effective against harmful bacteria.

Antibiotics are a vital tool for modern medicine and are used to treat infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis, as well as being used to avoid infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgeries.

The overuse of antibiotics has led to a rise in resistance, where antibiotics are becoming less effective.

Dr Nick White, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said: “As we approach winter, common illnesses will unfortunately be on the rise. If someone finds leftover antibiotics in their bathroom cabinet and gives that medication to a poorly family member, they might think that’s a kind and helpful gesture.

“However, the reality is that saving antibiotics for later or sharing them with others is dangerous and can have huge consequences. The misuse of antibiotics could leave someone suffering harmful side effects, as well as making that medication less effective at treating bacteria in the future.

“You should only take antibiotics when advised by your doctor, and if you take antibiotics when you do not need them, it will put you at more risk in the future. It’s important for all of us, health professionals and public alike, to support the Antibiotic Amnesty so we can help keep antibiotics working.”

During last year’s Antibiotic Amnesty, which took place over two weeks, more than 500 full or part packs of antibiotics were returned to pharmacies across the Midlands for safe disposal.

Liz Walker, Deputy Director of Medicines Optimisation for NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, is keen to encourage people to dispose of medicines through safe channels. She said: “Antibiotics that are thrown away in household rubbish, poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet are dangerous.

“These medicines can get into our rivers and seas and lead to more antibiotic resistance in the environment, which could in turn harm people.

“Pharmacies will always accept unwanted medicines from people or households for safe disposal. Medicines returned to a pharmacy are safely stored, collected by a licensed waste contractor and taken for safe disposal by incineration.”

People can find their nearest local pharmacy via the NHS website.

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