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New drive to fight ‘silent killer’ sepsis

GPs and NHS staff to get training materials

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 14 September 2017

GPs and other NHS staff are being encouraged to improve their knowledge of the symptoms of sepsis as part of a new government drive to tackle the condition.

The government and NHS England have launched a new action plan to coincide with World Sepsis Day, which will focus on nurses, care home staff and pharmacists and provide them with educational materials to boost awareness and provide a clear definition of adult sepsis for clinicians so it can be identified and recorded more quickly

Sepsis is sometimes known as a “silent killer” because it is difficult to spot. There are an estimated 123,000 cases in England each year and it results in around 37,000 deaths.

The new action plan follows a previous national plan published in 2015 to tackle sepsis across England, which focused on hospitals and GP surgeries. The latest plan is also being distributed to GPs and CCG clinical leads containing educational materials to boost awareness among all primary care professionals.

The intention is to reduce the number of people affected by the condition while also improving how sepsis is tracked and recorded.

The information being provided will tell clinicians, nurses, care home staff and pharmacists how to check for signs and symptoms of the condition

An indicator on sepsis will be added to the Improvement Assessment Framework for CCGs in the autumn, to encourage local commissioners to raise awareness of sepsis and fund and develop training for staff in their area.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world, and our ability to diagnose and treat sepsis effectively is a key litmus test of progress. While the NHS has taken major steps in recent years to improve how it responds to sepsis – actions that have saved nearly 1,000 lives – there is still more work to do to protect the many thousands who develop this dangerous condition each year.

“We need every part of our health system on the highest possible alert for sepsis, and this new plan will ensure more health professionals get the training, advice and targeted support to tackle this silent killer.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director for NHS England said: “Since the publication of our first plan in 2015 a lot has been done and this additional set of proposed actions reflects the desire of health professionals to tackle this dangerous condition.”

In addition, NICE has published a final quality standard on sepsis, which gives advice on priority areas of care for people with sepsis and urges hospital staff to treat people with life-threatening sepsis within one hour.

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