Intended for healthcare professionals


Clinical commissioning groups will be rated on sepsis care

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 25 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6361
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

Different areas of the country will be rated on how well they identify and treat sepsis, NHS England has announced.

Bruce Keogh, NHS England medical director, announced that a sepsis specific indicator will be included in the clinical commissioning group information and assessment framework alongside metrics on cancer, dementia, diabetes, mental health, learning disabilities, and maternity care.

Keogh made the announcement at the launch of a new public awareness campaign, led by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust, which aims to help parents and carers of young children to recognise the symptoms of sepsis and to know when to seek urgent help.

A report into sepsis by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death, published last year,1 found that 45% of patients with sepsis who were admitted to hospital with no other obvious problem either died or were left with a disability.2

NHS England then launched a sepsis action plan to improve early recognition and timely treatment.3 Keogh said that, in the year since the action plan was launched, the number of people screened for sepsis had significantly increased but that one in four acutely ill patients was still not being tested early enough.

He said, “Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals are spotting and treating more cases of sepsis than ever before, but there is still more we can do to reduce the number of families experiencing the heartache of losing a loved one from sepsis.

“Sepsis is a severe and life threatening response to infection, which can be really hard to spot in its early phases. It is often preventable if an infection is identified early. But, even when it has set in, it may be turned around if treatment is started soon enough.”

Keogh urged health commissioners and providers to take local action to improve sepsis diagnosis and treatment. Some GP software companies have already introduced pop-up reminders and printed information for GPs to give to parents of sick children, explaining what signs to look out for and when to bring the child back to be urgently seen.

He said that all commissioned software in all practices should include such a package and that all areas should use a consistent early warning score to improve identification and treatment of sepsis across the whole pathway, from GP practices to ambulance trusts and hospitals.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has updated the personal child health record, or “red book,” to include information on sepsis. Health Education England has also produced new education and training materials to increase sepsis awareness in health professionals.

Sue Bailey, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said, “While the early results are clearly making an impact, there is much more to be done to raise awareness of sepsis among all health service workers, patients, and the wider public. Early diagnosis and effective treatment are key to success here, and we must all redouble our efforts if more lives are to be saved.”

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said, “Sepsis is a huge worry for GPs, as initial symptoms can be similar to other common illnesses, and the college is putting a lot of effort into helping family doctors recognise potential sepsis and ensure that patients rapidly receive appropriate assessment and treatment.”


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