The Sunday Times covered my parliamentary question to the Department of Health about sepsis in newborn babies. The figures I received were quite shocking. Last year, 9,274 babies less than a month old were admitted to hospital with the potentially fatal condition. That is more than double the number — 4,614 — in 2012-13.
Sepsis affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. Cases of sepsis put a great deal of stress and pain on new parents and in some cases it can be fatal. I want to be assured that, as a society, we are doing everything possible to eliminate it. I've gone back to ask more questions to try and get to the bottom of whats going on.
The full article below:
Parents look for meningitis and miss soaring sepsis
The number of newborn babies admitted to hospital with sepsis has doubled over the past five years, official figures show.
Doctors warn that parents, many of whom are “constantly fearful” about meningitis, need to be educated about the dangers of sepsis, too.
Last year, 9,274 babies less than a month old were admitted to hospital with the potentially fatal condition. That is more than double the number — 4,614 — in 2012-13.
By comparison, the number of meningitis cases among newborn babies has fallen sharply, from 209 in 2012-13 to 113 in 2016-17.
The official figures, published by NHS Digital, emerge a year after Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, launched a national campaign to highlight the dangers of sepsis. Also known as blood poisoning, the condition is triggered by an infection that causes the body’s immune system to go into overdrive.
Eddie Hughes, a Tory MP, asked Hunt for the figures after the child of a close colleague fell critically ill with sepsis. Hughes said he was “shocked” by the figures, adding: “Sepsis affects some of the most vulnerable in our society — newborn babies under a month old.
“Cases of sepsis put a great deal of stress and pain on new parents and in some cases it can be fatal. I want to be assured that, as a society, we are doing everything possible to eliminate it.”
Jason Watkins, the actor who starred in the BBC self-parody W1A, has spoken out about the loss of his youngest daughter, Maude, to sepsis when she was two. He and his jewellery designer wife, Clara Francis, who have two other children, are now campaigning to raise awareness of the condition.
While the sharp rise might be partly due to doctors and nurses being more aware of sepsis, and so more likely to record it as their main diagnosis, experts warn the figures also reflect an actual increase in cases.
Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care and chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “Sepsis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in neonates.
“It highlights to me that the average parent is constantly fearful of meningitis but they need to be educated that, actually, infections from any source can be deadly for their children and they shouldn’t be reassured by the lack of a rash or the lack of neck stiffness [both possible signs of meningitis] if their child looks unwell.”
Hunt launched a sepsis awareness campaign last year after he was moved by the plight of families who lost children to the condition.
At the time, he said: “As a parent, nothing is more scary than when your son or daughter is ill. As you sit with a small, feverish child you inevitably fear the worst — but the truth is you just don’t know.”