37,000 people killed by this condition a year - but how much do you know about sepsis?

Sepsis kills 37,000 people a year

Sepsis kills 37,000 people a year - Credit: Archant

A reception at the Houses of Parliament has highlighted the dangers of sepsis, a relatively unknown condition which kills 37,000 people a year.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald was among the politicians who supported the event, which was timed to link with yesterday’s World Sepsis Day to raise awareness of a condition that kills more people - including 1,000 children a year - than breast cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer combined.

This reception was backed by the Cycle for Sepsis campaign which saw supporters pedal more than 700 miles from hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales, raising awareness of the devastating disease by tweeting, posting and sharing their heart-breaking stories at each stage of the journey.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it is not recognised early and treated promptly.

It is the main cause of death from infection around the world and, despite advances in modern medicine like vaccines and antibiotics acute care experts believe not enough is being done to save lives.

At the reception, the Department of Health welcomed vital steps for healthcare professionals to follow in the case of a dangerous fever - a ‘paediatric toolkit’ designed by the UK Sepsis Trust - in a bid to drive down death rates.

The UK Sepsis Trust also launched a screening tool for healthcare professionals and pocket guide for parents, incorporating the new concept of Red Flag Sepsis in children. Greater recognition in hospitals and the community could prevent thousands of deaths and save the NHS £160 million annually.

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Sir Oliver said: “While sepsis is a condition which may not hit the headlines, it is deadly. If timely interventions proposed by the UK Sepsis Trust were adopted across the NHS it could save up to 12,500 lives a year, and save the NHS money.”

“I was keen to show my support for efforts to tackle the disease and save lives. I want to see sepsis viewed as a medical emergency and have a higher profile among medical professionals and the public.”

UK Sepsis Trust chief executive Dr Ron Daniels said: “We hope that the event will help patients and healthcare professionals find out more about how to detect and treat the disease in the early stages, and maximise the chances of recovery. This year, the government has driven up care standards, but more needs to be done to raise awareness levels throughout the UK, to save lives.”

Find out more about the work of the UK Sepsis Trust