Parents with young children should be on the lookout for the signs of sepsis, a condition which affects around 250,000 people a year.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not spotted and treated quickly, it can rapidly lead to organ failure and death. The numbers are staggering – every year in the UK, 44,000 people die because of sepsis and 26,500 (a quarter of survivors) suffer permanent, life-changing after-effects.

Sepsis is an indiscriminate killer, claiming young and old lives alike and affecting the previously fit and healthy. It’s more common than heart attacks and kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer and road accidents combined. Current practice for diagnosis and treatment could be costing the NHS up to £15.6 billion per annum.

That’s why a nationwide campaign was launched just a few months ago to empower parents and carers of young children to identify the signs of sepsis before it becomes serious.

Millions of leaflets and posters have been placed in GP surgeries and hospitals across the country that urge parents to call 999 or take their child to A&E if they show any of the following symptoms:

• Skin looks mottled, bluish or pale
• Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
• Feels abnormally cold to touch
• Is breathing very fast
• Has a rush that does not fade when you press it
• Has a fit or convulsion

Campaign supporter and UK Sepsis Trust ambassador Melissa Mead, who lost her 12 month old son William to sepsis in 2014, said: “Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone. I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be. The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis”

New endeavours have been undertaken across the NHS to tackle this condition head on and at every level, from primary care to nurses and doctors in hospitals and paramedics on duty and in patients’ homes. Healthcare professionals all over the UK are learning to spot and treat sepsis with greater efficiency.

The campaign has come on top of several measures already taken by the NHS to improve early identification and timely treatment of sepsis. These include new incentives for hospitals, improving consistency and transparency of recording the condition’s incidence and the distribution of new educational materials to educate healthcare professionals.

For further information visit the UK Sepsis Trust website at sepsistrust.org.