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RCN congress to hear call for mandatory sepsis training for nurses and midwives

Sepsis survivor Tom Ray will use keynote speech to campaign for better support for nurses

Sepsis survivor Tom Ray will use keynote speech to campaign for better support for nurses


Congress audiences have been listening to a range of keynote speakers
in Liverpool this week. Picture: John Houlihan

Mandatory training to help nurses spotting signs of sepsis could help save thousands of lives each year, nurses plan to tell RCN congress today.

The gathering in Liverpool is due to hear from sepsis survivor Tom Ray, who had quadruple amputation as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment.

Universal scoring tool

Using his keynote speech, Mr Ray wants to call for mandatory sepsis training across the nursing and midwifery professions.

During a debate on sepsis, nurses plan to join Mr Ray in calling for a nationwide implementation of a system to identify deterioration in children being treated in hospitals and other settings. A universal paediatric early warning sign score (PEWS) system in England would mirror the National Early Warning Score for adults, introduced last year.

Elements of the scoring tool, which monitors children’s vital signs have been tested in specialist settings including Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

‘Poor outcomes for patients are equally dramatic for staff, friends and family and they will continue to happen if nursing staff are over-stretched, under-trained and unsupported,’ said Mr Ray ahead of his speech today.


The congress venue in Liverpool. Picture: John Houlihan

Investment in training  

Queen’s Nursing Institute fellow Pippa Bagnall, added that increased sepsis training for nurses will benefit all.  

‘Investment in nursing staff education shouldn’t be seen as a cost – it’s an investment that benefits everyone,’ she said.

‘Two hours of training for each nursing professional could massively reduce the £15 billion cost of sepsis to the NHS.’

Sepsis kills five people every hour in the UK and affects the lives of 25,000 children a year, according to the Sepsis Trust charity.

Slow progress

RCN professional lead for children and young people, Fiona Smith, said progress on a national PEWS system has been ‘too slow’.

‘Nurses have been calling for a national standardised PEWS system for children for more than ten years now,’ she said.

NHS England’s medical director for professional leadership and clinical effectiveness Celia Ingham Clark said it is developing an early-warning system for children.

‘The NHS is working with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to develop a system that will help NHS staff to identify acutely unwell children rapidly and ensure they are looked after in the most appropriate place,’ she said.


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