The Scottish Government is being urged to properly fund an awareness campaign to prevent more people from dying or losing limbs from sepsis because of ignorance about the illness, both among the public and the medical profession.
The call was made by Sepsis Research chief operating officer Colin Graham after a government survey revealed that despite an increase in general awareness following earlier campaigns, there was no matching increase in awareness of the potentially fatal illness’s five key symptoms. In its conclusions, the survey states “the detail of the five symptoms is not cutting through” and “any future campaign activity should consider a mass-reach channel which provides greater exposure for symptoms”.
Sepsis kills an estimated 52,000 people in the UK of whom more than 4,000 are in Scotland.
Sepsis Research, based in Scotland, is the only UK charity dedicated to raising funds to raise awareness, to help improve diagnosis and medical care and to identify why treatments are more effective for some people than for others.
Mr Graham said the report’s conclusion states: “Campaign channels are increasing awareness of sepsis.
“However, the detail of the five symptoms is not cutting through. Therefore, any future campaign activity should consider a mass-reach channel which provides greater exposure for symptoms.
“That makes it very clear if the public are to understand the symptoms of sepsis, more money on a public awareness campaign is needed. We believe investing £500,000 on TV, radio and social media advertising will make a difference by helping people to spot the early signs of sepsis and ensure they seek urgent medical assistance. This will potentially save lives, prevent the loss of limbs or other life-changing after-effects and reduce expensive and lengthy hospital stays.
“The Scottish Government currently spends £79 million a year on critical care for sepsis patients and better awareness could help reduce that figure or, at least, help to prevent it from spiralling higher.”
The Scottish Government’s minister for public health, Joe Fitzpatrick, said sepsis mortality had fallen 21 per cent since January 2012 for patients receiving treatment with an hour in an acute care setting.
He added: “There is, of course, more to be done. We haven’t yet succeeded in increasing the number of people who can recognise the early symptoms.”