More hospital admissions linked to antibiotic resistance were recorded at Royal Bolton Hospital last year, figures reveal.

Researchers warn drug-resistant, or antimicrobial resistance (AMR) infections could pose a greater public health risk than Covid-19 unless urgent action is taken to tackle their rise.

NHS data shows there were around 210 admission episodes with a diagnosis of AMR in Bolton last year - up from 200 recorded during the previous year.

AMR happens when germs build up resistance to treatments – such as bacteria to antibiotics – meaning the medicines can no longer fight infections they were developed to treat.

It has led to the emergence of so-called superbugs such as MRSA, which are resistant to various types of antibiotic. It can also hinder cancer treatments as patients become more vulnerable to infection.

The figures count the first period of care a patient has under a consultant and can include admissions for which AMR was the main reason, or a contributing factor.

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A recent World Health Organisation report warned the world was failing to develop 'desperately needed' antibacterial treatments, despite the growing awareness of the urgent threat posed by AMR.

Across England, around 93,700 admission episodes were recorded in 2019-20 – up from 90,200 a year earlier.

Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK, said: "The rising trend in antibiotic-resistant infections year on year highlights the increasing risk that antibiotic resistant infections pose to our society.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated what happens when the world is ill-prepared for the spread of infectious disease.

"While Covid is a virus that is treatable through vaccination, there are no vaccines to treat the most common resistant infections."

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Prof Garner said the Government needs to commit more funding and resources to fighting AMR, adding: "Otherwise, we may be facing another pandemic, this time without the possibility of a vaccine."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "As the global Covid-19 pandemic has made clear, major outbreaks of disease and other public health emergencies are one of the most significant threats to any society, and this experience underscores our commitment to tackling antimicrobial resistance.

"The Government has a bold vision for containing and controlling AMR by 2040, which is supported by a five-year action plan and the investment of more than £360 million in research and development in this area."

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