A Wigan dad whose son died of sepsis believes today is an important day in raising awareness of the devastating illness.
As Melissa Mead talks to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt about a national media campaign highlighting the signs and importance of a rapid response, Stuart Tagg said the meeting could be the most significant so far.
Stuart’s two-year-old son, Thomas, died last June and he is fund-raising for UK Sepsis Trust, working closely with Melissa, as her child, 12-month-old William died in 2014 after medics failed to spot the signs.
Stuart, of Ashton, said: “Today is a massive day. Melissa is fighting for a big national awareness TV campaign and I hope she gets what she has set out to achieve.
“I am pleased that the government is taking it seriously as Jeremy Hunt is a massive influential figure.
“He can make changes if he wants to. I have my fingers crossed for this.
“There is nothing that can be done for us, but we want to prevent this from happening to other families.
“Everyone knows about the glass test for meningitis and so we are hoping for that kind of coverage for sepsis so everyone knows the signs straight away so that can act fast.”
So far Stuart has raised more than £16,500 for UK Sepsis Trust and recently completed the Manchester Marathon wearing a T-shirt with photos of Thomas, as well as Peppa Pig stickers.
He will also take part in the Great North Run and Wigan 10K in September.
Melissa, of Cornwall, said she is pleased there is a national campaign about childhood infections, but is concerned that the seriousness of sepsis will be weakened as it is lumped with other illnesses.
She said: “The campaign we are striving for is all encompassing, for adults and children, as of the 44,000 people that die of sepsis, 42,000 were adults.
“Mr Hunt’s response is for a campaign about infections in children and I fear sepsis will be diluted, ignoring its prominence in adults.
“Sepsis needs its own campaign.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition and patients rightly expect the NHS to be able to recognise it and provide high quality, safe care.
“We have asked Public Health England to take forward a national awareness campaign to help parents spot the signs of sepsis, alongside other devastating infections such as meningitis and septicaemia. We look forward to discussing this with the Mead family on Wednesday.”
What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis?
Fever, hypothermia (very low body temperature), or seizures
Eating, drinking, sucking (babies feeding) poorly, or vomiting
Fast or slow heart rate
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Urinating very little or not at all
Weakness, irritability, drowsiness, and harder to wake than normal