Devon parents urged to be on look out for symptoms of sepsis

Posted on: 16 December 2016

Devon is backing a nationwide campaign to help parents spot the symptoms of sepsis to protect young children and save lives has been launched today by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The campaign is principally aimed at parents and carers of young children aged 0-4 and will include a new film featuring mother and campaigner Melissa Mead, who lost her baby son William to sepsis in December 2014.

The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that there are more than 120,000 cases of sepsis in adults and children, and around 37,000 deaths, each year in England.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition that we need to far get better at spotting across the NHS. By raising awareness and improving clinical practice we will save lives in the fight against this horrible illness. I’d like to thank those who have worked with us to campaign for better awareness of sepsis, including Melissa Mead and other families who have tragically lost children to sepsis.”

Campaign supporter and UK Sepsis trust ambassador Melissa Mead 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 – it could be life-saving.”

“I will never hear my sweet child say ‘mummy I love you’.

I will never know the man that William would have grown to be. So please, it is too late for me to ‘think sepsis’, but it’s not too late for you.”

GP surgeries, hospitals and children’s centres across Devon will receive leaflets and posters over the coming days.  These materials, developed with the Royal Colleges, will urge parents to call 999 or take their child to A&E if they display any of the following signs:

  • Looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Has a fit or convulsion

Devon Director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson, said:  “You know your child and you can tell whether they’re getting better or getting worse, and whether this seems like another minor illness or something more serious.

“Please get medical advice if your instinct is that this is something out of the ordinary, or has got worse since the child was assessed.

“The symptoms can be quite subtle at first and difficult to recognise, but someone with sepsis will not get better without hospital treatment, so the constant is that their condition will worsen, so if you’re worried, get help, even if a doctor has seen the child before.”

Caroline Gamlin, NHS England South West Medical Director, said: “Sepsis is a major killer, claiming over 37,000 lives each year, which is why it is so important for parents to know what action to take when their child is unwell. This campaign will help parents identify when their children are seriously unwell and to encourage them to seek urgent medical attention.

“We know that acting quickly can save a child’s life.”

“Right across NHS England we have started a new movement to tackle this condition head on, from nurses and doctors on the wards, to paramedics seeing patients in their homes, staff across the NHS are being made more aware of how to spot and deal with sepsis.”

“This work has been driven by the desire of doctors, nurses and other health professionals to unite and take action. This campaign is an important addition to our ongoing work – we will never treat sepsis in time unless everyone ‘thinks sepsis’.”

The campaign, delivered by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust, comes on top of a number of measures already taken by the NHS to improve early recognition and timely treatment of sepsis.

For further information on sepsis, visit the NHS website or the Sepsis Trust.

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Posted in: Health and Wellbeing