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Scotland launches major public awareness campaign on ‘silent signs of sepsis’

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A major campaign to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis in Scotland has been launched today.

The radio, print and social media campaign will attempt to reach more than 1.3 million people across the country in order to warn of the signs of sepsis.

“I am confident this campaign will play its part in equipping the public with a better understanding of the signs and symptoms”

Shona Robison

The campaign will run via radio, local newspapers, the Big Issue, with posters (see PDF attached below) and leaflets in community pharmacies, GP surgeries and hospitals, and Facebook advertising.

Specific materials will be displayed in GP surgeries and hospitals to complement work being done through the Scottish Patient Safety Programme to also raise awareness among healthcare teams.

The campaign is being delivered by the Scottish government in partnership with sepsis awareness and support charities FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity and Finding Your Feet.

To launch the initiative today, health secretary Shona Robison will meet teams of healthcare professionals at University Hospital Wishaw in North Lanarkshire.

They are credited with developing an innovative early-warning system for the early diagnosis of patients with sepsis and ensure arrangements to treat them are in place at the hospital on arrival.

“For every hour’s delay in antibiotics, the chances of dying from sepsis increase”

Calum McGregor

Ms Robison said the Scottish government was “committed to raising awareness of the dangers of sepsis”.

“One person every four hours dies as a result of sepsis which is why it is so important this campaign, backed by £70,000 Scottish government funding, will highlight the symptoms of this often-silent and often-deadly condition to millions of Scots,” she said.

She added: “While mortality rates from sepsis have fallen by 21% since 2012, there is still more to be done and I am confident this campaign will play its part in equipping the public with a better understanding of the signs and symptoms.”

Calum McGregor, NHS Lanarkshire consultant acute physician and national clinical lead for acute care with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “Sepsis can be difficult to recognise, and many of the symptoms can be attributed to other conditions.

“Five symptoms and signs to be aware of are a change in behaviour such as confusion, cold or blotchy hands and feet, uncontrollable shivering, very high or low temperature, and reduced urine output,” he noted.

“Recent data suggests that for every hour’s delay in antibiotics, the chances of dying from sepsis increase so it is vital we get people the treatment they need as quickly as possible,” he added.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, over the last 18 months or so, there has been growing momentum to improve sepsis care, with initiatives launched by nurses at ward, trust, and regional level.

Craig Stobo, founder and chair of FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity, described the new campaign as a “milestone day for sepsis awareness in Scotland”.

He said: “We have pressed for the need to raise awareness of this killer condition and are confident that this Scotland-wide campaign will be a game changer in increasing the public’s understanding of the symptoms of sepsis and the quick action needed to save lives.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Good gong Scotland!
    Am I right in thinking nothing much is happening in England except training to recognise sepsis in children, not everyone?

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