Last year, prompted by a constituent’s tragic loss of life and seeing first hand the dreadful impact on that death on the health professional caring for that patient, I started working with the UK Sepsis Trust.
I have written before in this column about Sepsis, an infection which sees a person’s immune system go into overdrive, diverting blood away from vital organs. When not detected and treated quickly this can, and all too often does, lead to organ failure and death.
It is estimated that 37,000 people die every year in the UK from Sepsis, more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. This is a tragedy, made all the more so by the fact that Sepsis is treatable with antibiotics.
The UK Sepsis Trust, led by Dr Ron Daniels, have developed a treatment plan for Sepsis, known as the ‘Sepsis Six’. This consists of six simple medical procedures that can be administered simply. If applied within half an hour of Sepsis developing the treatment plan cuts the risk of death by half. Last year a pioneering report by the Health Ombudsman recommended that the NHS should deploy such treatment more frequently. This has the full support of Health Ministers and Department of Health officials.
I am very keen to see wide use of the ‘Sepsis Six’ and earlier this year worked with the UK Sepsis Trust, writing to hospitals across England asking them for information as to how they treated patients with Sepsis. What we found revealed a mixed picture. Whilst some areas, including the South West, are doing a relatively good job of detecting Sepsis and treating it appropriately, others are under reporting cases of Sepsis and are not deploying the right treatments quickly enough upon detection. Lives that could be saved are still being lost.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Sepsis that I founded and chair, published this information in our annual review on the NHS and Sepsis last week and on our website
We will do this each year, keeping the pressure on the NHS to accurately report Sepsis and comprehensively and consistently use the ‘Sepsis Six’.
In September we will be launching a national awareness campaign so more people are aware of the symptoms and seek medical help sooner. As we keep the pressure up over the months to come so yet further progress can be made, saving thousands of lives.
Whilst the Coalition Government’s decision to ring-fence NHS and Public Health spending, and to actually increase it in Cornwall, is helping staff in the NHS to cope with rising demand for services, early detection of Sepsis will free up precious resources as well as save lives. Early detection and treatment of Sepsis saves the NHS money.
Thanks to Dr Daniels and his team the knowledge is there on Sepsis to save lives and reduce pressure on the NHS. Knowledge must now be translated into action throughout the UK.