RCN calls for ‘proper workforce strategy’ to avoid sepsis delays

The RCN has called for a ‘proper workforce strategy’ in the NHS to avoid life-threatening delays to sepsis treatment

The RCN has called for a ‘proper workforce strategy’ in the NHS to avoid life-threatening delays to sepsis treatment

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Life-threatening delays to sepsis treatment could be improved if the NHS had a ‘proper workforce strategy’, the RCN says.

The college was responding to BBC research showing patients’ lives were at risk as a result of delays in treatment.

Analysing data from more than 100 hospital trusts, the research found that 25% of patients in England suspected of having sepsis were not receiving treatment within the recommended one-hour period.

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said nurses were aware of the need to treat sepsis rapidly but were being held back by workforce and training shortages.

‘Assessing people for possible sepsis in the community or in hospital takes dedicated time... underpinned by education and skills development to deliver treatment,’ she said.  

‘The historical legacy of cuts to the workforce, student bursaries and education budgets continues to have an ongoing impact despite the best efforts of nurses to do more with less.’

Guidance for nurses

She said that while new measures to screen for sepsis were welcome, a ‘proper workforce strategy’ was needed to ensure the right nurse was in the right place at the right time.

New guidance was released earlier this year with the aim of reducing deaths linked to sepsis.

It was drawn up collectively by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the UK Sepsis Trust.

The guidance says nurses and other staff must alert a consultant if a patient with suspected sepsis does not respond to treatment within an hour.

It also states that staff should look for sepsis at an early stage in adult patients presenting at emergency departments, and among in-patients, and listen to concerns of relatives and carers about changes in behaviour.

Trusts in England could face fines if they do not comply with the mandatory NHS guidance, which came into force in April.

RCNi Sepsis resource collection

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