Britain’s health system could slip back by 200 years unless the “catastrophic threat” of antibiotic resistance is successfully tackled, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer warns today.
In her first annual report, Dame Sally Davies says the problem of microbes becoming increasingly resistant to the most powerful drugs should be ranked alongside terrorism and climate change on the list of critical risks to the nation.
The growing ineffectiveness of many antibiotics against infection is being compounded by a “discovery void”, as few new compounds are being developed to take their place. Dame Sally calls for a string of actions to tackle the threat, which is likely to include tighter restrictions on how GPs prescribe antibiotics for their patients.
Declaring that in 20 years’ time even minor surgery may lead to death through untreatable infection, she warns: “This is a growing problem, and if we don’t get it right, we will find ourselves in a health system not dissimilar from the early 19th century.”