Pharmacists to be trained to better spot sepsis

Pharmacists to be trained to better spot sepsis

Pharmacists and a range of other NHS staff are to be better trained in spotting the deadly condition sepsis in a bid to bring down death rates.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wants health professionals to work to a clear definition of what the symptoms of sepsis look like so that treatment can be administered quickly and effectively.

He also aims to boost awareness of sepsis across the NHS and in members of the public and said the Department of Health will consider providing extra treatment for pharmacists on sepsis during their degree courses.

The news comes after worrying new figures from the BBC's investigative programme Panorama found that one in four NHS hospital trusts is failing to give antibiotics to half of their patients with sepsis within the recommended time.

It examined 104 trusts across the UK and discovered that only 78 per cent of eligible patients are being screened, while 63 per cent are being provided with antibiotics within an hour.

The NHS had already told hospital trusts to review how successful they were at identifying sepsis back in 2015, but the fact that these new figures cover the 12 months to March 2017 suggests hospitals still have a long way to go.

Responding to the Panorama investigation, Mr Hunt said: "There are preventable deaths happening but we're bringing them down and I think that the picture is much improved from two years ago. But there's a long way to go.

"Safety is at the top of the NHS's in-tray ... and sepsis is, if you like, a litmus test as to whether we're getting there."

Symptoms of sepsis include rapid breathing, fever and chills and a mottled rash, although this does not always manifest in all cases.

It comes about as a result of an infection causing the body's immune system to overreact and without immediate treatment, will lead to multiple organ failure and eventually death.

There are 44,000 deaths from it each year in the UK, 14,000 of which are preventable.