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Government plans sepsis awareness campaign launch this year

The Government has committed to a major campaign launch later this year to raise public awareness of sepsis.

The charity UK Sepsis Trust (UKST), which is working with the Department of Health and Public Health England on the campaign, said the commitment followed a meeting between health secretary Jeremy Hunt, UKST and Melissa Mead, who lost her 12-month old son to sepsis in 2014.

It comes as NICE published new guidance earlier this month to advise GPs to treat sepsis as urgently as chest pain, while Mr Hunt pledged earlier in the year to initiate a new drive to raise awareness of the sepsis condition, and improve patient care.

In an announcement today, UKST said: ‘DH and PHE will build on a proposal put forward by the charity to deliver a coordinated public awareness campaign dedicated to sepsis and targeting the condition in adults and children alike.

‘The initiative will be launched later this year.’

The UKST, which has been lobbying for an awareness drive since 2012, said it wants a campaign which ’empowers members of the public to “Just ASK: could it be sepsis?” when they’re feeling unwell’.

The charity is also launching a leaflet to aid parents and doctors to spot sepsis in children today, which it will distribute across the country.

The Department of Health announced in January this year that it wanted all GP surgeries in England would need to carry out an audit of how well they identify and manage sepsis from March – in a bid to avoid thousands of deaths resulting from bloodborne infections each year.

In February, a report found that NHS 111 call handlers are unable to identify potentially fatal cases of sepsis because the system is not sensitive enough to pick up red flags.

Recent figures showed sepsis affects 150,000 people in the UK annually and results in 44,000 deaths. It is estimated that better sepsis care could save 13,500 lives every year, and save the NHS £314m a year.