Sepsis is not being treated quickly enough in some hospitals

Sepsis, a rare but potentially fatal infection, is not being diagnosed and treated by some NHS hospitals within the recommended time, according to figures from 104 NHS trusts.

BBC Panorama has seen the data that suggests one in four hospitals is failing to give antibiotics to half their patients within the guideline time of one hour.

Without prompt treatment sepsis can permanently damage organs, lead to amputation or multiple organ failure and death.

Susan Liver, a partner and medical negligence specialist solicitor for Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “According to NHS data, sepsis causes 44,000 deaths every year in the UK and 14,000 of those are preventable. It is a rare condition and not easy to diagnose, but we’re dealing with cases where sepsis was not considered even though symptoms strongly point to the condition. Even when a diagnosis is confirmed, in a busy and overstretched hospital treatment can be delayed, which risks life changing injury and even death.”

Concerned at the growing number of undetected sepsis cases, in 2015 the NHS asked hospital trusts to look into how they successful identify patients with the condition.

Results from the trusts’ reports show 78% of patients are being screened and 63% are getting antibiotics within one hour. According to NHS data, the reports also reveal that 37% of patients that need antibiotics for sepsis are not getting them within an hour and 14 hospital trusts are only screening one in every two people with symptoms of sepsis.

From the trusts that supplied data, Liverpool Heart and Chest Foundation NHS Trust (8%), East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (27%) and Christie NHS Foundation Trust (28%) were found to be the three lowest scoring NHS England trusts on screening for sepsis. The figures show the number of those who required screening against those who received screening.

The three lowest scoring NHS England trusts on treating sepsis with antibiotics were Bradford Teaching Hospital (25%), University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire (26%) and Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital (28%). Figures are from trusts that provided data and show the number of those who required antibiotics against those who received antibiotics within one hour.

A full list of the lowest scoring NHS English trusts on screening for sepsis and the lowest scoring on treating sepsis with antibiotics can be found within the BBC news report .

To watch the Panorama documentary click here .