The number of antibiotics being prescribed on the island is falling thanks to better awareness of when to use them.

From November 2016 to October 2017, 92,497 antibiotic prescriptions were issued by GPs, but from November 2017 to October 2018, this fell to 88,183.

This fall suggests that Island residents are gaining a better understanding of when antibiotics should - and shouldn't - be prescribed.

There has been a national drive to reduce our antibiotic use, as bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics are becoming more common.

Caroline Allen, deputy head of medicines optimisation for the NHS Isle of Wight CCG, said: "Antibiotics are essential to medical treatment and help treat bacterial infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

"Common infections such as colds, flu, some sore throats, most coughs and some ear infections are, although inconvenient, often due to viruses - put simply, antibiotics are of no use in treating those sorts of illnesses. A pharmacist can suggest things you can do yourself to help with symptomatic relief and provide useful advice.

"We want to keep antibiotics working so that they are effective when they are needed to treat serious bacterial infection such as pneumonia and meningitis, and we also need them to avoid infections during chemotherapy and certain surgeries."

You can help to keep antibiotics working effectively by:

  • Making sure you take antibiotics for the correct number of days – don't stop even if you're feeling better
  • Taking doses at the right time and taking into account some antibiotics are affected by food, drink and other medication

"Remember if you're unsure you can always see a pharmacist who will be able to help you with any questions," added Caroline.

"If the person you to speak to for health advice says you don't need antibiotics, then trust their advice about what is the best treatment for you.

"Return any unused antibiotics to a pharmacy – don't keep them and be tempted to reuse them if you have similar symptoms again. It's important to get diagnosed again as not all antibiotics will work for all types of bacteria."