North-east wards see increase in suspected sepsis cases

Gordon MP Colin Clark
Gordon MP Colin Clark

An astronomical rise in the number of North East people suspected of suffering from a deadly blood-borne disease has highlighted the need for national data collection, according to a local MP.

New figures reveal that a 17-fold increase in the number of patients admitted to local hospitals with suspected sepsis over the past five years.

Some 366 people were admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin in 2017, with several younger patients at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. This compared to 21 across all three hospitals in 2013.

The figures, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, show the general hospitals have sharply increased their intake of suspected cases since 2016.

Sepsis is an infection of the blood which causes the body to create a strong immune response.

For every hour's delay in antibiotics, mortality from sepsis increases by almost 8%.

Gordon MP Colin Clark found out more about the scale of the problem in NHS Grampian following the introduction of a diagnostic tool used at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He said: “Some 44,000 people die from sepsis in the UK alone each year, and yet most do not know a great deal about the disease.

“This year, the SNP government backed Scottish Conservative calls for a national campaign to raise public awareness of sepsis – something NHS Grampian said it welcomed. This could save lives.

“According to these figures, the Grampian health board area has seen 158 people die with sepsis-type illness in the last five years. That figure hasn’t gone down.

“The Scottish Government does not publish routine NHS figures on how many people contract or die from blood poisoning every year.

“Any campaign must be matched by publicly available data.”

Due to NHS Grampian coding, confirmed cases of sepsis are included with a main diagnosis of septicaemia, for which the number of patients has increased year on year – from 330 in 2013 to 381 in 2017.