Experts have called on the Government to set up a registry to track cases of sepsis, after ‘shocking’ research findings suggested it affects more than twice as many people and costs the UK billions of pounds more than had previously been estimated.
A team of York academics, working with the UK Sepsis Trust, found there are around 260,000 cases of sepsis every year – over 100,000 more than earlier projections indicated.
The researchers estimated this costs the UK economy ’up to’ £15.6bn every year – compared with previous estimates suggesting the cost was in the region of £2.5bn.
According to the authors, the Government could save thousands of lives and reduce the economic burden by £2.8bn through improving access to healthcare and basis care for sepsis.
Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said the figures were ‘a shocking new indication of the gravity and sheer scale of the problem’.
Dr Daniels added that the ‘dearth of reliable data’ on sepsis meant it was ‘imperative that the Government acts decisively to develop a national “sepsis registry” and introduces coding practices for sepsis in all NHS trusts’.
He said: ‘A precise understanding of how the NHS handles sepsis is urgently required to prevent avoidable deaths, improve outcomes for survivors and save billions of pounds for the UK as a whole.’
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director at NHS England, said: ‘Health professionals are spotting and treating more cases of sepsis than ever before, but there is still more we can do to reduce the terrible toll that this severe and life-threatening condition has on patients and their families.
‘That’s why we are working closely with the UK Sepsis Trust and medical leaders on awareness-raising to ensure that the signs of sepsis are spotted as soon as possible, as well as introducing more measures than ever before to support and equip organisations and health professionals to improve the chances of survival and reduce complications.’
It comes after a range of initiatives, including a NICE guideline aimed urging GPs to step up efforts to treat potential sepsis ‘as urgently as chest pain’ and an NHS England diktat to record cases of sepsis through an online form followed by efforts to get GPs to use online sepsis tools – despite concerns these were causing problems during consultations.