World Sepsis Day: Building a 'sepsis aware' healthcare system

Dr Rachel Marsden, RCGP Clinical Support Fellow for Sepsis

World Sepsis Day on 13 September saw the release by NHS England of both its Sepsis guidance implementation advice for adults, and the Second sepsis action plan [PDF]. These were closely followed by NICE's release of its first Quality Standard into Sepsis Care. The Sepsis Clinical Priority team marked the day by live streaming a webinar discussing sepsis and its management.

NHS England's sepsis guidance implementation advice for adults provides an operational definition of Sepsis that fits with the use of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) in assessing patients who are acutely unwell. It was produced following work undertaken by NHS England, in collaboration with NICE and the Sepsis Trust and supported by Health Education England, and recognises that sepsis is not always easy to diagnose, with diagnosis relying on clinical judgement. Healthcare professionals suspecting sepsis are urged to consider a patient’s history and risk factors, before making a clinical assessment. This assessment should include the measurement of physiological variables to stratify the severity of illness. The National Quality Board has encouraged further evaluation of NEWS in primary care. The second Sepsis action plan brings together work on sepsis that is being taken forward nationally in the NHS in England, aiming to improve prevention, early diagnosis and prompt treatment of sepsis. The plan highlights five broad themes on which action is planned by the cross-sepsis board, and these are prevention, improving identification and treatment, safety netting, education and finally standards and reporting.

NICE's first quality standard looks at sepsis care from both the primary and secondary care prospective, with standards one and five holding relevance to GPs. Standard one asks that patients in whom sepsis is suspected are risk assessed using a structured set of observations, whilst standard five asks that people deemed to be low risk of sepsis are given information on how to monitor their symptoms and how to access medical care. An onward project for the sepsis priority team is the reviewing of available safety netting leaflets for adults regarding sepsis, in the hope of providing a leaflet backed by the college.

The clinical priority team have been holding free workshops across the country, providing training into sepsis recognition as well as exploring the challenges for clinicians and their services.  Looking to the future, a second Sepsis Summit will take place in Birmingham on 21st November 2017. The event will look specifically at the needs and roles of GPs, and hopes to build upon the previous summit held in January, which considered the challenges of developing a Sepsis Aware Healthcare system. Attendees will be able to contribute and discuss issues as part of creating an RCGP Position Statement on Sepsis. The event is free and tickets can be booked on the The GPs role and needs in a Sepsis aware healthcare system page.

The Sepsis Toolkit provides links to the newly released NHS England Sepsis documents, the NICE Quality Standard, and the college produced webinar and podcasts.


Clinical Innovation and Research Centre: 020 3188 7597

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