New figures reveal the number of people in the north-east suspected of suffering from a blood-borne disease has soared from 21 to 366 in five years.
Some 366 people were admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin in 2017 with suspected sepsis – an infection of the blood – compared to 21 across all three hospitals in 2013.
The figures also show that 158 deaths were recorded in the five-year period, with Gordon MP Colin Clark calling for the Scottish Government to routinely publish how many die from the disease.
He said: “That figure hasn’t gone down. The Scottish Government does not publish routine NHS figures on how many people contract or die from blood poisoning every year. Any campaign must be matched by publicly-available data.
“But NHS Grampian has claimed the rise in suspected cases is partly down to improved screening and awareness-raising campaigns.”
A spokesman for the health board said: “Part of the rise is down to a welcomed improvement in public and staff awareness of the condition, thanks in large part to multiple campaigns and initiatives.
“Improved screening for the condition has also contributed – although it is important to note only a small proportion of those identified as being at risk are diagnosed with the condition.
“Another factor in the increase is a change in the definition of sepsis during 2016. Conditions which were previously not recorded as sepsis – for example some cases of pneumonia or urinary tract infection – are now classed as sepsis and it is likely that sepsis is now recorded more often as a result.”
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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our sepsis public awareness campaign has played a crucial role in alerting more people to the symptoms and dangers of the disease, with 76% of people saying they were confident in what to do if they suspect sepsis.
“The Patient Safety Programme will continue to build on this progress during a further public campaign in 2019.
“Focusing on early identification is critical and the increase in people receiving treatment within one hour of recognition has led to mortality rates among those identified at this stage falling by 21% since 2012.”