A father-of-three who nearly died after being diagnosed with sepsis is warning people to "listen to your body."

Daren Fletcher, of Abbots Langley, developed the potentially fatal illness after a bout of pneumonia.

The normally fit and healthy osteopath began experiencing flu-like symptoms and chest pain in April, but went to work as usual and visited a private GP.

He was told to go to hospital, where he was prescribed antibiotics and had a chest X-ray, and said he began feeling a little better.

But by the afternoon he decided to leave work early because he felt so unwell, and was incoherent in phone calls and messages to family and friends.

By the time he arrived back at Watford Junction he could barely walk.

He was picked up from the station by concerned members of his family and taken by ambulance to Watford General Hospital's A&E.

Mr Fletcher spent five days in hospital, including intensive care fighting the infection off and it has taken several months for him to recover his usual energy levels Daren, who had never heard of sepsis before falling ill, said. “Listen to your body. I knew that I felt like I was going down with flu but something else just didn’t feel right.

"I’ve never felt that ill before and my body was obviously giving me signals. If I hadn’t paid attention to the signs, it might have been a very different story for me.”

Sepsis occurs when the chemicals the body's immune system release into the bloodstream to fight infection cause inflammation throughout the body.

Without quick treatment, it can lead to organ failure and death.

Symptoms include fever or abnormally low body temperature, chills, peeing less than normal, rapid pulse, rapid breathing and nausea and vomiting.

With early diagnosis it can be treated with antibiotics.

Now, Watford General Hospital is creating a giant paper chain filled with words associated with the disease.

More than 3,000 fluorescent orange paper links are being distributed across West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to create the chain.

Once complete, it will be more than 50m long and will provide a vivid visual trigger for staff and the public to ask – ‘could it be sepsis?’ Sepsis kills 44,000 people a year in the UK and 70 per cent of cases occur away from a hospital setting.

Staff at Watford General Hospital are alert to the signs of sepsis thanks to the tireless work of the sepsis steering group.

Former intensive care nurses Moira Surridge and Sarah Lafbery work relentlessly to improve the recognition and early treatment of sepsis for doctors, nurses, visitors and patients.

In addition to raising awareness of sepsis triggers through posters, newsletters and leaflets, they have taught hundreds of members of staff through ward-based sessions or one to one chats.

They have collaborated with the East of England Ambulance Trust to train paramedics; checked the observation charts of more than 2,000 patients a year for signs of sepsis; and by walking around the trust wearing bright orange ‘Think Sepsis’ T-shirts have triggered conversations with patients and relatives who have shared their sepsis stories.

Through their efforts, the number of patients who are screened on admission for suspected sepsis has risen from 46 per cent in 2015 to 92 per cent in three years. And the number of patients who receive intravenous antibiotics within an hour of a sepsis diagnosis is now at 94 per cent compared with 58 per cent in 2015.

“The support for this chain of action has been overwhelming. It’s come from all corners of the trust and we’ve been stopped time and again by patients and visitors who want to share their stories,” said Moira. “We can and we will save lives with this awareness campaign, of that I have no doubt.”