Fears for seriously ill people ‘left at the mercy of luck’

Terry and Pauline Collett with a bench dedicated to their son Oliver's memory. Pic Steve Robards SR1703613 SUS-170227-150509001
Terry and Pauline Collett with a bench dedicated to their son Oliver's memory. Pic Steve Robards SR1703613 SUS-170227-150509001

People in Horsham could be left at risk of dying from sepsis - because they cannot get medical treatment quickly enough to save them.

That’s the fear of Horsham councillor Christine Costin who says new medical guidelines - outlining how people suspected of suffering from sepsis should be treated with antibiotics within one hour - might not be able to be met in Horsham.

Local people currently have to travel to hospitals in either Redhill or Worthing for emergency treatment.

“Residents in Horsham don’t feel confident about the distances that need to be covered in an emergency,” said Mrs Costin.

“There is a shortage of ambulances, a shortage of beds and insufficient staff at all clinical levels.

“Receiving brilliant attention, which certainly does happen, is like a lottery. This leaves pain control and urgent intervention at the mercy of good luck.

“The intervention of a helicopter might save the day but this is down to availability. The situation is letting a lot of people down.”

Earlier this month, it was reported how Horsham Council admin worker Oliver Collett, 29, died from sepsis - a form of blood poisoning - at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill just three days after first feeling unwell.

This week Oliver’s dad Terry welcomed the new guidelines from NICE which recommended treatment of sepsis patients within an hour.

But, he said: “The thing turns on these professionals recognising the symptoms of sepsis in the first place.

“Our son Oliver was not diagnosed with sepsis even though he had many of the symptoms by Saturday when he arrived at East Surrey Hospital. He was not diagnosed with sepsis until his autopsy.”

He added: “The point of focus must be awareness of sepsis and its symptoms by medical professionals but also by us, the public.

“If I had known about sepsis and the symptoms on that Saturday I could have raised it with the professionals at the time, but I had never heard of sepsis nor its symptoms.

“If anything can come from our son Oliver’s death it must be to make awareness of sepsis more out there than it is.”

Following Oliver’s death, a coroner concluded that he died from overwhelming sepsis and there had been ‘a missed opportunity’ to instigate treatment.

She said that Oliver’s chances of survival could have been affected if he had been given antibiotics earlier.

Now new guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence - NICE - states that patients suspected of having sepsis should be treated with antibiotics within one hour.

Oliver’s parents Terry and Pauline, who live in Horsham, are hoping that the new ruling will add to their attempts to raise awareness of the killer condition that can strike previously healthy people extremely quickly.

Terry said that had he known of the symptoms and existence of sepsis he could have raised concerns with doctors treating his son.

Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group - responsible for paying for local health services has been asked to comment on the situation but has so far not responded.