SEPSIS: More than 50,000 hospital stays for sepsis patients 

By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today praised health service staff and urged the Government to properly resource health boards as new figures showed more than 50,000 hospital stays for sepsis patients.

Analysis of five years of Public Health Scotland figures by Scottish Liberal Democrats shows that:

  • Between April 2016 and March 2021, there have been 52,545 continuous inpatient stays for sepsis. Case numbers increased significantly between 2016/17 and 2019/20 before falling back slightly in provisional 2020/21 figures.
  • 835,314 days have been spent in hospital by patients with sepsis in just five years, an average of 15.9 days per stay.

Sepsis occurs when the body responds poorly to a bacterial infection and attacks its own tissue and organs. Symptoms include a high or abnormally low temperature, fast heart rate and rapid breathing. Deterioration can be rapid, and if it is not detected early, can lead to multi-organ system failure and death.

The Global Burden of Disease Report (GBDR) on sepsis, published in January 2020, estimates there were 48.9 million cases in 2017, and 11 million deaths, across 195 countries and territories, making it a bigger killer than cancer.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, right, said:  “By some estimates sepsis is now a bigger killer globally than cancer and these figures show that before the pandemic, the number of patients requiring a hospital stay was on the rise.

“The government has taken some sensible steps in terms of running public information campaigns and boosting public awareness but the reality is that ultimately it is NHS staff who must be at the top of their game to tackle this killer condition.

“Staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that we remain safe and healthy, but they are doing it with one hand tied behind their back. No wonder they are reporting being run off their feet, as stubborn and persistent vacancies take their toll.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf have had years to get on top of the myriad crises facing our health service.

“The SNP must take responsibility for the staffing crisis and ensure that health boards are properly resourced to deal with the challenges they face or the risk is that conditions like sepsis will continue to take a bitter toll.”

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