The government chief medical officer warned today that antibiotic resistance is a "ticking time-bomb" potentially as catastrophic as climate change.
Professor Sally Davies said it should sit alongside terrorist attacks on the government's risk register.
Minor operations such as hip replacements could become deadly in 20 years' time if we lose the ability to fight infection, she said, urging the Prime Minister to raise the issue at next month's G8 summit in London.
She called for incentives for firms to develop new drugs to stop the "apocalyptic scenario" becoming a reality.
The Department of Health said it will soon publish a five-year antimicrobial resistance strategy to address the issue.