Fighting back against the number 3 killer

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not spotted and treated quickly, it can rapidly lead to organ failure and death. It’s the UK’s third biggest killer, claiming a staggering 44,000 lives in the UK every year.

Previously thought to effect 150,000 people a year, new data from an independent study commissioned by the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) shows that there are at least 250,000 cases of sepsis annually. What’s more, 40,500 survivors (a quarter) will face life life-changing, permanent after-effects.

Sepsis is an indiscriminate killer, claiming young and old lives alike and affecting the previously fit and healthy. It’s more common than heart attacks and kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer and road accidents combined. But despite the statistics and the condition’s devastating impacts, awareness of sepsis is astonishingly low.

The magnitude of the human cost of sepsis creates a startling economic burden. New data indicates that the cost of sepsis to the UK economy could be as much as £15.6 billion every year, rather than the £2.5 billion previously estimated. The good news, though, is that potential savings to the economy by improving sepsis care across the NHS could be as high as £2.8 billion.

UK Sepsis Trust: Who are we?

The UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) is on a mission to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors of sepsis by instigating political change, educating healthcare professionals, raising public awareness, and providing support for those affected. Earlier identification and treatment across the UK would save at least 14,000 lives and result in 400,000 fewer days in hospital for patients every year. This alone would save the NHS over £314 million per annum.

UKST emerged from one determined doctor’s realisation that sepsis can and must be better handled. As an intensive care specialist, Dr Ron Daniels was confronted with an endless stream of preventable sepsis cases. A young father called Jem, whose unnecessary death left behind a wife and two young children, proved to be one patient too many. Dr Daniels founded UKST in 2012 and has since worked tirelessly from it base in the West Midlands to extend the charity’s reach nationally and internationally.

Dr Ron Daniels BLOGJPEG

UK Sepsis Trust Founder, Dr Ron Daniels

Raising awareness

Early diagnosis is crucial to improving outcomes, so spreading awareness is integral to preventing fatalities. In 2016 alone UKST launched two much-needed and long-awaited awareness campaigns for healthcare professionals and the public.  Millions of leaflets and posters have been placed in GP surgeries and hospitals across the country that urge parents to call 999 or take their child to A&E if they show the relevant symptoms.

Campaign supporter and UK Sepsis Trust ambassador Melissa Mead, who lost her 12 month old son William to sepsis in 2014, said: “Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone. I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be. The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis”

UKST is also working with Crossday Productions, Origami Films and Genesius Pictures to spread the word following the release of feature film Starfish, which tells the true story – tragic and hugely uplifting – of Tom and Nicola Ray. Following what seemed like a chest infection, Tom lost all four of his limbs and parts of his face to sepsis. Having hosted screenings all over the country, UKST is now running a series of Starfish events at NHS Trusts across the UK. The film is groundbreaking in that it shows the various obstacles, emotional and physical, that confront a survivor of sepsis, highlighting the importance of after-care.

Over the next few months we’ll also be joining forces with ambulance trusts all over England, so that fleets of NHS vehicles will feature our campaign materials wherever they go.

Political Impact

UKST has influenced government policy and helped to set up working groups and boards across the public health system and in Parliament. Dr Daniels worked with NICE on new guidelines to deliver better sepsis care within the NHS, and has secured direct commitments to the sepsis cause from Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHSE.

The Department of Health is working with partners, including Health Education England, to ensure that all relevant health professionals have the knowledge and skills they require to identify and effectively treat sepsis, as well as provide relevant and tailored advice to those at greatest risk.

UKST have also introduced a national scheme to make sure patients at risk are screened for sepsis as quickly as possible and receive timely treatment on admission to hospital. This is the CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation Goals) which was extended by NHS England for 2016/17 as a national measure incentivising the screening of patients for sepsis where appropriate, and administration of intravenous antibiotics within an hour where patients screen positively.

Such campaigning and lobbying from UKST has seen public awareness of sepsis in the UK (i.e. recognition of sepsis as a dangerous condition) rise from 34% in 2010 to 70% in September 2016- 42.7 million more people have now heard of sepsis as a result of our work.

We are determined to continue, if not accelerate, our growth and success, through varied collaborations and fundraising drives at a community level, as well as engaging philanthropic contributions. But as is the case with most charitable organisations, we’ll face obstacles at every stage.  We rely upon the continued support of our tireless volunteers and the future relationships we’ll develop with our fellow BID members that will allow us to continue the crucial fight against sepsis.

The UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) is on a mission to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors of sepsis by instigating political change, educating healthcare professionals, raising public awareness, and providing support for those affected. Earlier identification and treatment across the UK would save at least 14,000 lives and result in 400,000 fewer days in hospital for patients every year. This alone would save the NHS over £314 million per annum.

For further information visit the UK Sepsis Trust website at sepsistrust.org.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s