Researchers warn drug-resistant infections could pose a greater public health risk than Covid-19 unless urgent action is taken to tackle their rise.
NHS Digital data shows there were 540 admissions with a diagnosis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 2019-20.
That was up from 480 recorded during the previous year, and 395 in 2014-15 – the earliest year with available data.
The figures, which are rounded to the nearest five, 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.
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 kinds of antibiotics. It can also hinder cancer treatments as patients become more vulnerable to infection.
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 and 64,300 in 2014-15.
The national figures include activity in NHS hospitals and some NHS-commissioned activity in the independent sector.
“The rising trend in antibiotic-resistant infections year on year highlights the increasing risk that antibiotic resistant infections pose to our society,” said Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK, a charity working to tackle the threat of drug-resistant infections.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated what happens when the world is ill-prepared for the spread of infectious disease.
“Whilst Covid is a virus that is treatable through vaccination, there are no vaccines to treat the most common resistant infections.”