ROYAL Bournemouth Hospital has welcomed a new rapid test for sepsis – despite having one of the UK's best records on detecting and tackling the deadly disease.

Medical Director at RBCH, Alyson O’Donnell said: "Our emergency department benefits from a point of care testing machine, which allows us to receive blood results within around 20 minutes – quicker than sending it to the laboratory and awaiting the results, which supports us to diagnose sepsis and other conditions quickly and efficiently."

The hospital has one of the UK's best records on the deadly condition – which kills 52,000 people in the UK every year – more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Two years ago it recorded 126 sepsis deaths over three years, 37 per cent lower than the expected figure of 202 and twice as low as Tameside, one of the worst-recording areas.

Sepsis, which used to be known as blood poisoning - occurs when there is a serious complication of an infection. It requires fast treatment to avoid organ failure and death. Being aware of the symptoms of septic shock – when blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level – can help victims access the healthcare they need quickly. Sepsis symptoms in adults include slurred speech, extreme shivering, passing no urine, severe breathlessness, and mottled skin.

Alyson O’Donnell said: “Managing and treating sepsis is one of our main priorities and for a number of years we’ve led a high profile Think Sepsis campaign, aiming to keep sepsis at front of mind for all staff."

She said the highly visible campaign had raised awareness of sepsis and promoted amongst staff the importance of spotting the signs early, diagnosing quickly and treating immediately to avoid unnecessary deaths.

"We’re incredibly proud of our record on sepsis – we continually improve our training; last year we introduced new e-training, which was completed by 96 per cent of staff within 10 months," she said. "Training for sepsis will never stop but as a trust we know we’re improving and giving it the high profile it deserves."

The new sepsis test, which was developed by Strathclyde University, is expected to become available within the next three years.