Interview - Melissa Mead

Monday, April 2, 2018

National project coordinator, UK Sepsis Trust

You have teamed up with JMW Solicitors to raise awareness of sepsis among parents, producing a leaflet to include in Bounty packs…

The leaflet is two-sided, and one side contains a short summary of William’s story. William is my son, who sadly lost his life to sepsis shortly after his first birthday. All of those involved in William’s care from a healthcare perspective weren’t ‘thinking sepsis’ and consequently neither were we. We hadn’t even heard of sepsis so definitely didn’t know to look for it.

The other side of the leaflet contains all the life-saving symptom information you will need in the event that you suspect sepsis in your baby. It explains what sepsis is and details the symptoms in a very easy to understand list that parents can follow to help empower them to make a more educated decision about what steps they should take.

Giving all new parents this leaflet will ensure they are armed with the information should they require it, not just when their babies are newborn, but as they grow. The Bounty packs are a perfect tool as they are guaranteed to be given to new parents.

A survey by the solicitors showed that many parents aren’t aware of the early warning signs of Sepsis. Does this surprise you?

Sadly, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Campaigns that have been run by the trust in conjunction with major stakeholders, such as the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England, in addition to our standalone campaigns, simply aren’t enough.

As a charity we don’t want parents’ knowledge of sepsis to be a postcode lottery and we are doing all that we can to reach all of the public to ensure that everyone has access to this life-saving information.

How common is sepsis in children?

We don’t know for certain how many children under five develop sepsis due to the way it’s recorded, but Government figures suggest there are at least 30,000 cases across the UK annually, with around 1,000 little lives claimed. This equates to nearly three children lost every single day.

What part can staff in childcare settings play in identifying sepsis and treating it?

It’s important to observe when a child is poorly and notice any changes.

It’s important for childcare providers to look out for the symptoms in the symptom card ( But also to bear in mind that if a child is poorly, and they contact the parents to collect the child, they continue to observe and keep note of the child’s symptoms, looking for any deterioration. Sometimes parents can take several hours to come and collect their child; if a child is suffering with sepsis, those hours are precious, and it is vital that emergency healthcare support is requested immediately if you suspect sepsis.

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