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Knowing the signs

Published: 5 Feb 2018 10:00

Raising public awareness of the silent signs of sepsis.

A Scotland-wide campaign to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis has been launched by Health Secretary Shona Robison.

The radio, print and social media campaign will reach more than 1.3 million people across the country, and every community pharmacy in Scotland will display posters warning of the signs of sepsis.

It is being delivered in partnership with sepsis awareness and support charities FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity and Finding Your Feet.

Specific materials will be displayed in GP surgeries and hospitals to complement work being done through the Scottish Patient Safety Programme to also raise awareness among healthcare teams.

The Health Secretary will meet teams of healthcare professionals at University Hospital Wishaw in North Lanarkshire who have developed an innovative early-warning system for the early diagnosis of patients with sepsis and ensure arrangements to treat them are in place at the hospital on arrival.

Ms Robison said: “The Scottish Government is committed to raising awareness of the dangers of sepsis. One person every four hours dies as a result of sepsis which is why it is so important this campaign, backed by £70,000 Scottish Government funding, will highlight the symptoms of this often-silent and often-deadly condition to millions of Scots.

“While mortality rates from sepsis have fallen by 21% since 2012, there is still more to be done and I am confident this campaign will play its part in equipping the public with a better understanding of the signs and symptoms.”

Craig Stobo, Founder and Chair of FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity, said:

“This is a milestone day for sepsis awareness in Scotland.  FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity, is delighted to be launching this nationwide campaign in partnership with the Scottish Government. 

We have pressed for the need to raise awareness of this killer condition and are confident that this Scotland-wide campaign will be a game changer in increasing the public’s understanding of the symptoms of sepsis and the quick action needed to save lives. We are proud to provide additional funding for this vital campaign and while we can’t bring back those lost to the condition, we dedicate this campaign to them and pledge to continue working towards the eradication of sepsis.”

Calum McGregor, NHS Lanarkshire consultant acute physician and National Clinical Lead for Acute Care with Healthcare Improvement Scotland said: “Sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and even death. Early treatment with appropriate antibiotics can reduce mortality.

“Sepsis can be difficult to recognise, and many of the symptoms can be attributed to other conditions. Five symptoms and signs to be aware of are a change in behaviour such as confusion, cold or blotchy hands and feet, uncontrollable shivering, very high or low temperature, and reduced urine output.

“Recent data suggests that for every hour's delay in antibiotics, the chances of dying from sepsis increase so it is vital we get people the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”


The campaign is running via the following media channels: radio (Life Matters), local print media, the Big Issue, 1200 poster sites in community pharmacies across Scotland, leaflets in community pharmacies, posters/leaflets in GP surgeries and hospitals, and Facebook advertising.

More information on the symptoms of Sepsis can be found here

More information on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme can be found here