Editorial

Sepsis: why a nationally agreed early warning system for children is urgently needed

 Children's nurse Gillian Priday urged RCN congress to lobby for mandatory training to combat sepsis amid calls for a paediatric early warning system to be adopted in England

 Children's nurse Gillian Priday urged RCN congress to lobby for mandatory training to combat sepsis amid calls for a paediatric early warning system to be adopted in England

gillian_prida
Gillian Priday speaking at RCN congress. Picture: John Houlihan

Although some nurses regard RCN congress as like Marmite – you either like it or hate it – it does provide an opportunity for nurses to get together and showcase some of the best features of the profession. It also offers an opportunity to challenge practice, influence policy and make recommendations.   

This is what children’s nurse Gillian Priday did when she stepped onto the podium to consider what nurses can do to reduce avoidable harm and deaths from sepsis. 

According to the Sepsis Trust, there are 25,000 cases of the condition involving children each year in the UK. In light of this figure, Ms Priday’s opinion piece, What we need to do to reduce the number of sepsis cases in the UK, makes interesting reading. 

Congress delegates had already seen and heard about the effect of sepsis on a young man and his family. Tom Ray is a quadruple amputee after a minor cut on his gum during a routine visit to the dentist caused sepsis. 

Had there been an early warning scoring system in place at the time, it is more likely his sepsis would have been detected. 

Will and commitment

Such a system for adults has been introduced in England in 2017, with more than 70% of NHS trusts now using it. There is an early warning scoring tool for children in Scotland, and it works well, but no such system has been agreed for England. 

For multiprofessional teams in England, this situation is disgraceful. Progress on introducing an early identification resource has been far too slow. 

What is required is the will and commitment of staff across all disciplines to review what is available and reach a consensus on its use.  

We need to sit down with our medical colleagues and finish the job of introducing an early warning system for children as soon as possible.


doreen_crawfordDoreen Crawford is nurse adviser with Crawford McKenzie and consultant editor Nursing Children and Young People

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