Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Call for 'proper' workforce strategy as sepsis cases double

  • 1 Comment

“Terrifying” new figures showing a doubling of cases of sepsis in England over two years have sparked a new call for action to address nurse shortages.

The number of recorded incidents of sepsis jumped from 169,215 in 2015-16 to 350,344 in 2017-18, according to NHS England data obtained by law firm Simpson Millar.

“We need a proper workforce strategy to make sure we have the right nurses in the right places at the right times”

Suman Shrestha

Nurse leaders warned that staffing challenges were threatening progress on sepsis, while noting that clinicians were now able to detect more cases because of improved training and tools such as the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) system. 

Suman Shrestha, professional lead for critical care at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Any rise in the number of sepsis cases in worrying.

“Patients who survive sepsis undergo traumatic experiences and potentially long-term effects,” he added.

“While nurses welcome and are making full use of the recently-introduced NEWS2 system to screen for sepsis – which are helping us detect cases that otherwise would not have made the statistics – under-staffing inevitably makes it harder for them to spend sufficient time assessing and monitoring patients,” added Mr Shrestha.

“We need a proper workforce strategy to make sure we have the right nurses in the right places at the right times,” he urged.

David Thomas, a medical negligence lawyer from Simpson Millar, said he was concerned that the message about the importance of spotting the warning signs of sepsis was not getting through to all in the health system.

He said: “It’s terrifying to hear that the number of cases of sepsis have spiked and, unfortunately, it’s something that we have seen first-hand, and the devasting consequences it can have on people’s lives when it goes undiagnosed.”

Mr Thomas represents a mother-of three who had to have both of her legs, her right arm and the fingers of her left hand amputated after contracting sepsis whilst in hospital.

He said “multiple red flags” that would have indicated that the woman was at risk of sepsis went unnoticed and almost cost the patient her life.

“It’s terrifying to hear that the number of cases of sepsis have spiked”

David Thomas

The trust involved had since accepted that the tragedy could been avoided if it had spotted the warning signs by following the sepsis protocol, according to Simpson Millar.

“We hope that these new statistics will encourage health staff to learn from past mistakes and be extra vigilant of the warning signs, so they can act quickly and effectively to avoid any further injury,” said Mr Thomas.

It comes after a call was made at this year’s Royal College of Nursing congress for nurses to be given better nurse training to identify sepsis.

A keynote address was given at the conference by sepsis survivor Tom Ray, who is a quadruple amputee as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment.

NHS England has been approached for comment. 

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • We do need a proper workforce strategy but making a direct link between staffing and a rise in sepsis diagnoses is disingenuous without a more rigorous analysis note the comment "clinicians were now able to detect more cases because of improved training and tools such as the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) system."

    So a rise in diagnoses could equally be cast as an indicator of successful awareness raising and showing that patients who would otherwise not been diagnosed are identified. Let's at least look at the mortality rates...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs