A nationwide campaign to help parents spot the symptoms of sepsis to protect young children and save lives has been launched today by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The campaign is principally aimed at parents and carers of young children aged 0-4 and will include a new film featuring mother and campaigner Melissa Mead, who lost her baby son William to sepsis in December 2014.

The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that there are more than 120,000 cases of sepsis in adults and children, and around 37,000 deaths, each year in England.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition that we need to far get better at spotting across the NHS. By raising awareness and improving clinical practice we will save lives in the fight against this horrible illness. I’d like to thank those who have worked with us to campaign for better awareness of sepsis, including Melissa Mead and other families who have tragically lost children to sepsis.”

Campaign supporter and UK Sepsis trust ambassador Melissa Mead said: “Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone. I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be. The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis – it could be life-saving.”

“I will never hear my sweet child say ‘mummy I love you’. I will never know the man that William would have grown to be. So please, it is too late for me to ‘think sepsis’, but it’s not too late for you.”

Millions of leaflets and posters are being sent to GP surgeries and hospitals across the country from tomorrow. These materials, developed with the Royal Colleges, will urge parents to call 999 or take their child to A&E if they display any of the following signs:

• Looks mottled,bluish or pale

• Is very lethargic or difficult to wake

• Feels abnormally cold to touch

• Is breathing very fast

• Has a rash that does not fade when you press it

• Has a fit or convulsion

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/sepsis or www.sepsistrust.org