A campaign is to be launched next month to reduce the number of prescriptions GPs write out for antibiotics, the government has announced.
The drive will highlight the fact that using antibiotics is not effective on many common ailments.
It will also press home to doctors that inappropriate use of antibiotics can increase the emergence of drug-resistant strains of infections.
The announcement comes as Health Secretary Alan Johnson outlines his plans for the £270m earmarked for the NHS in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review.
Mr Johnson said the government hopes the campaign targeting GPs will result in "less of a knee-jerk reaction to prescribing".
He added: "Healthcare-associated infections are everyone's responsibility, from NHS cleaning and care staff to me as Secretary of State – and I take that responsibility seriously.
"The past 60 years have seen great advances in healthcare and medicine. For example, the use of antibiotics have saved countless lives, but antibiotics do not work on most coughs, colds and sore throats and their unnecessary use can leave the body susceptible to gut infections like Clostridium difficile."