Sepsis: hospital admissions in England have more than doubled in three years

Commentators say figure could be due to rise in awareness of the condition 

Commentators say figure could be due to rise in awareness of the condition 

Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire 

Hospital admissions for sepsis in England have more than doubled in three years, new figures show.

NHS Digital data obtained by the Press Association shows there were 350,344 recorded hospital admissions with a first or second diagnosis of sepsis in 2017-18, up from 169,125 three years earlier.

More recording of sepsis cases

UK Sepsis Trust chief executive Ron Daniels said several factors were behind the increase, including a rise in awareness of sepsis which has led to much better recording of patients with the condition.

‘These potentially alarming data coincide with the recent focus on sepsis by the NHS in England,’ he said. 

‘It’s highly likely that this means that we're now closer to the true number of cases than we were three years ago.’

Dr Daniels also cited an increasingly ageing population as a factor.

The NHS Digital data show that among people aged 75 to 84 the number of sepsis admissions rose to 78,397 in 2017-18, up from 32,846 in 2015-16.

Among people aged 85 and over, there were 67,897 admissions in 2017-18, up from 25,014 in 2015-16.

For children and young people aged 24 and under, the figures also rose. There were 48,647 admissions among this age group in 2017-18; this represents a 32% rise on the 36,847 admissions in 2015-16.

Ensuring the appropriate use of antibiotics 

NHS England medical director for clinical effectiveness Celia Ingham Clark said: ‘The NHS has become much better at spotting and treating sepsis quickly over the last few years, so even though more cases are being diagnosed, the chances of dying from it are falling.

‘As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, our work on sepsis and antimicrobial resistance is coming together to make sure that patients with serious infections get the right antibiotic at the right time, and antibiotics are not used where they won’t help, so we can reduce the future risk of infections becoming resistant to antibiotics.’

Sepsis kills around 52,000 people a year in the UK.

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