A new survey conducted by patient charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, has found that 100,000 patients in the UK with Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD) don’t have access to adequate care. IBD Nurses are instrumental in improving the quality of life for patients with IBD as well as helping to cut significant costs to the NHS, yet many health services are not offering the recommended nursing level.
The specialist nurse role provides expert advanced nursing care, being the first point of contact and caring, often during distressing times - coordinating often high cost therapies in a cost effective way - as well as reducing A&E visits, with studies showing that IBD nurses help with a 38% reduction in hospital visits and a 19% reduction in in-patient length of stay. IBD costs the NHS £900 million per year, with the average cost per patient being £3000 per year. These costs are comparable to diabetes or cancer as treatment options can include effective, high cost biological drugs and surgery.
Recent research also revealed that six out of 10 IBD services in hospitals do not currently meet the recommended standard for the number of IBD nurses necessary to deliver the right level of service and support. 80% of survey respondents without access to a specialist nurse did not know they should have access to one – highlighting the information gap that patients need to understand and manage their condition effectively.
Isobel Mason, Nurse Consultant and IBD Nursing Development Manager at Crohn’s and Colitis UK said;
“It seems inconceivable that these roles need justifying when there is so much evidence of the contribution specialist nurses bring to patient care. More than 100,000 people are not being offered the health support they deserve or is recommended, and many more are struggling to be seen by a service that is under pressure - return to the dark days when one in four specialist nurses were threatened by redundancy and almost half asked to work outside their speciality in more generic role would be a disaster for everyone affected by chronic conditions. More nurses means better care."
• The IBD nursing role reduces length of inpatient stay and attendances to A&E and outpatient clinics.
• Standards of IBD care are higher in centres where the IBD team includes a nursing role.
• Nurses are central to the effective, cost effective pathways for high cost biological therapies.
• IBD patients describe the nursing role as a ‘lifeline’.
On World IBD Day, 19 May 2016, Crohn’s and Colitis UK will mobilise patients to share the survey findings with their local hospital management, along with their valued personal experiences of the IBD nurse service. The charity is also asking hospital chiefs and IBD teams to work directly with the charity to support the delivery of more IBD nurses locally, as well as working with IBD nurses and Gastroenterologists to provide new resources that can facilitate job and business planning for health service development.
Dr Ann McMahon from the Royal College of nursing said;
“Specialist IBD Nurses have been praised for the invaluable support and expertise they provide to improve patients’ quality of life, giving them more control over their treatment. We would welcome more specialist nurses to reach those who currently don’t have access to the care they deserve.”
For more information about the More IBD Nurses – Better Care Campaign starting on World IBD Day, please visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/worldibdday