Top tips for Sepsis leads in general practice

Sepsis poses a challenge for general practice and the whole health community. It is estimated that between 70 and 80% of cases originate from the community and general practice1. The illness affects approximately 144,000 people in the UK annually2 and is a priority area for patient safety in all the UK nations1,3,4. Sepsis affects all age groups, with higher levels in the very young and elderly. 

The RCGP has recognised this challenge by making sepsis a clinical priority to raise awareness of the illness and how the appropriate action from GPs could have an impact upon this condition, reducing the burden for the patients, their families and the wider NHS. A lot has already been achieved in raising awareness of sepsis in that time but there remain opportunities to do more.

In Autumn 2017, NHS England Clinical Commissioning Group improvement and Assessment Framework included sepsis awareness raising amongst healthcare professionals5,6. As part of the self-certification process, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been asked to demonstrate that general practices have an identified sepsis lead. NHS England are currently looking to update this guidance following calls for clarification on the role from CCGs. As part of this process they shared information with the clinical priority team at the RCGP as to what they envisaged the role would involve. This has led to a compilation of tips for practices on the role of the Sepsis Lead to help practices pinpoint a suitable individual to fill the role, as well as advise on possible quality improvement activity they could lead.

A general practice sepsis lead should:

  1. Be a senior member of the practice team (either clinical or non-clinical).
  2. Undertake other roles related to infection prevention control and antimicrobial stewardship as is appropriate.
  3. Ensure that all members of staff in the practice under take sepsis learning appropriate to their role.
  4. Ensure that appropriate Sepsis and Infection control messages are visible in the practice.
  5. Support and monitor the use of physiology in the assessment of patients with infection and in the communication of concern to hospital and ambulance services.
  6. Promote the use of safety netting leaflets for patients within the practice.
  7. Promote the appropriate vaccination of staff, and patients, particularly vulnerable groups against in influenza and other relevant infections.
  8. Promote and audit antimicrobial prescribing to safeguard against resistance and adverse effects from unrequired medication.
  9. Develop systems to capture and review sepsis cases within the practice population.
  10. Lead practice response to any outcomes from such review processes that are undertaken either within the practice or locality.

The clinical priority team have created an online Sepsis Toolkit with links to multiple resources, including our newly released podcast, the first in a series of two around sepsis and learning disabilities. It features the RCGP clinical fellow for sepsis, Dr Rachel Marsden, in conversation with Dr Liz Herriven, an Emergency Medicine consultant whose daughter Amy has Down Syndrome and Autism. Amy has had sepsis several times in her 12 years, and together they discuss sepsis and learning difficulties from both a doctor and a patient perspective and the challenges for both sides when dealing with sepsis.




  1. NHS England. Second sepsis action plan. NHS England.
  2. Health & Social Care Information Centre. Hospital Episodes Statistics. 
  3. 1000 Lives Improvement. Reducing harm and Increasing Patient Safety: Acute Deterioration.  
  4. Primary Care Sepsis Collaborative 
  5. NHS England. CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework 2017/18
  6. NHS England. CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework 2017/18: Technical annex 

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