A nationwide campaign to raise awareness about how parents and carers of young children can detect sepsis has been launched by the health secretary, alongside a renewed emphasis on ensuring health professionals can identify the condition.
Aimed mainly at parents and caregivers of children aged 0-4 years old, the campaign hopes to save the lives of children with the illness, which was described as a “devastating condition” by Jeremy Hunt.
Sepsis is widespread, with more than 120,000 cases and around 37,000 deaths per year in England according to the UK Sepsis Trust charity.
”Sepsis is a devastating condition that we need to get far better at spotting across the NHS”
The new campaign will see leaflets and posters sent to GP surgeries and hospitals across the country that will advise parents to seek urgent medical advice if their child displays symptoms including looking mottled, bluish or pale, feeling very lethargic, abnormally cold to touch, or is breathing very fast.
Parents will also be told to go to A&E or call 999 if their child has symptoms such as a rash that does not fade when pressed, or if they have had a fit or convulsion.
A film featuring mother and campaigner Melissa Mead, who lost her baby son William to sepsis in December 2014, will also be included in the campaign, which is being run by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust.
Meanwhile, PHE said it was working with national workforce planning body Health Education England to ensure staff were trained to identify and treat sepsis.
Concerns about gaps in sepsis education and training for nurses and other health and care professionals were recently raised by HEE.
Research by HEE among a group of NHS trusts found while almost all hospitals had sepsis training for nursing staff, around a quarter did not provide this across all nursing specialties.
Launching the new awareness campaign, Mr Hunt said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition that we need to get far better at spotting across the NHS.
“By raising awareness and improving clinical practice we will save lives in the fight against this horrible illness.”
Professor Paul Cosford, director of health protection and medical director at PHE, said: “We know that acting quickly in cases of sepsis can save a child’s life and it is important parents have the information to take action.
“It is important that these messages are widely received which is why I am writing with Sir Bruce Keogh to all NHS medical directors to highlight this campaign and the importance of making all staff aware of the signs of sepsis.”