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Sepsis could cost UK economy up to £15.6 billion each year, new study suggests

Posted on 20 February 2017

New data from an independent study carried out by the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) - commissioned by the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) - shows that sepsis is likely to be incurring costs of up to £15.6 billion every year for the UK economy.

Previous estimates suggested that the cost to the economy was in the region of £2.5 billion, but the latest analysis indicates the problem is far worse.

The UK sees at least 260,000 cases of sepsis annually – over 100,000 more than initial projections suggested. Mortality and long-term complications due to delayed diagnosis and treatment in sepsis patients is resulting in billions of pounds worth of lost productivity each year. 

Government intervention to improve access to healthcare and reliability of basic care could make a huge impact, saving thousands of lives and reducing the economic burden by as much as £2.8 billion.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not identified and treated quickly, it can lead rapidly to organ failure and death, and leaves thousands of survivors with life-changing disabilities.

The condition harms adults and children alike, and results in more than 44,000 deaths every year in the UK. Earlier recognition and treatment could save more than 14,000 lives annually.

The full report is presented by UKST at Portcullis House by Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England.

The report recommends that new practices for coding sepsis should be adopted by NHS trusts across the UK, and reinforces the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s calls for the Department of Health or NHS England to create a ‘sepsis registry’ to capture key information about sepsis patients. 

Dr Ron Daniels BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “We’ve long been aware that sepsis causes thousands of unnecessary deaths every year and presents an unmanageable economic burden. A crippling paucity of data has thus far confined us to conservative estimates, but the figures reported in YHEC’s study are a shocking new indication of the gravity and sheer scale of the problem. It’s sobering to learn that the issue is so much greater than previously estimated. 

“Equally sobering, though, is the dearth of reliable data recorded for a condition that carries such overwhelming costs in human and economic terms. It’s imperative that the government acts decisively to develop a national ‘sepsis registry’ and introduces coding practices for sepsis in all NHS trusts. A precise understanding of how the NHS handles sepsis is urgently required to prevent avoidable deaths, improve outcomes for survivors and save billions of pounds for the UK as a whole.”

Further information:

  • York Health Economics Consortium’s The cost of sepsis care in the UK report is available on request. The York Health Economics Consortium is an independent think-tank owned by the University of York. For more information, visit:
  • About Sepsis

Sepsis is caused when the body’s immune system overreacts to infection. It is an unpredictable condition that can strike at any time. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are critical to survival. Sepsis is responsible for at least 44,000 deaths each year in the UK, and 14,000 of those fatalities are considered avoidable.

  • About the UK Sepsis Trust

The UK Sepsis Trust is a coalition of experts and key influencers who aim to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors of sepsis by instigating political change, educating healthcare professionals, raising public awareness, and providing support for those affected. The UK Sepsis Trust is a registered charity (registration number 1158843, company number 8644039). For more information, visit: Twitter: @UKSepsisTrust and @SepsisUK and Facebook:

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