The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a new draft guideline to help healthcare professionals better recognise the signs of sepsis and thus accelerate access to treatment.

More than 123,000 people in England alone developed sepsis last year and it is estimated to kill around 37,000 people annually, representing a significant cause of the death in the country.

The condition - infection-induced inflammation that can affect the body’s organs and tissues -  can be very hard to recognise because symptoms can be subtle, leading to delayed diagnosis in more than a third of all cases.

However, many deaths could be prevented if sepsis was recognised quickly and treatment started early, prompting the development of the first guideline providing evidence-based best practice advice for healthcare professionals in any setting.

“We know that when hospitals are well prepared, clinicians do better at responding to patients with sepsis; however recent reports have revealed that a third of hospitals have no formal protocols for recognising and responding to sepsis,” said Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE.

“We want all healthcare professionals to see sepsis as an immediate life-threatening condition and make sure there are systems in place across the NHS for it to be recognised and treated as an emergency”.