A nationwide campaign has been launched to raise awareness and help parents spot the signs of sepsis.
Melissa Mead, whose 12-month-old-son, William, died of sepsis in December 2014, unveiled the scheme with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mrs Mead, from Cornwall, has campaigned tirelessly since she lost her son just days after his first birthday, after a catalogue of errors, misdiagnoses and missed opportunities by NHS helpline staff and doctors.
She has repeatedly called on the NHS to raise awareness about sepsis, believing William could have been saved if she had been given the correct advice at the time.
Delivered by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust, the campaign is part of a series of measures to tackle the condition, dubbed the ‘silent killer disease’, which arises as a complication of an infection.
Parents and carers of newborns to four-year-olds are being particularly targeted by the NHS to help them spot the signs of sepsis, which is estimated to cause around 37,000 deaths in England each year.
Millions of leaflets urging parents call 999 or to take their child to A&E if they are displaying symptoms will be delivered to hospitals and GP surgeries across the country.
Mrs Mead will also appear in a new film, which will form part of the campaign. She said: “Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone. I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be.
“The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis – it could be life-saving.”
Dr Ron Daniels, the chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “With sepsis claiming over 37,000 lives annually in England, this awareness campaign is a crucial step forward. Clinicians and members of the public can save thousands of lives every year if they just ask: could it be sepsis?”
Sir Bruce Keogh, the national medical director for NHS England said: “This campaign is an important addition to our ongoing work – we will never treat sepsis in time unless everyone ‘thinks sepsis’.”
Early symptoms of sepsis
Immediate action should be taken if a child looks mottled, bluish or pale, is breathing rapidly, appears lethargic or difficult to wake, is abnormally cold to touch, has a rash that does not fade when pressed or has a fit or convulsion.
Early symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:
– high temperature (fever)
– chills and shivering
– a fast heartbeat
– fast breathing
Symptoms of more severe sepsis
Symptoms of more severe sepsis can include:
– feeling dizzy or faint
– confusion or disorientation
– nausea and vomiting
– not passing water for prolonged periods
– cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin