There is still “a long way to go” before patients with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis receive adequate services, specialist nurses have warned – in spite of improvements in recent years.
Revised UK standards were published this week in order to address continuing “shortcomings” in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) services.
The standards, which update a document from 2009, describe good quality care including dedicated gastrointestinal wards, multidisciplinary team working, shared care arrangements between primary and secondary care and key assessment and monitoring practices.
The guidance has been developed jointly by organisations including Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the British Society of Gastroenterology, the Primary Care Society of Gastroenterology, and the Royal College of Nursing’s gastrointestinal nursing forum.
They note that standards of care have risen significantly for children and adults since their first audit of IBD services and care in 2006.
Their most recent audit in 2010 found the provision of dedicated gastrointestinal wards rose from 67% in 2006 to 90% in 2010, and the number of Crohn’s patients being weighed on admission had increased from 52% to 75%.
The level of IBD nurse specialist provision also rose over the same period from 56% to 78%. But 79% of services still failed to meet the standard of 1.5 whole time equivalent IBD nurse specialists per 250,000 of the population, which can lead to services being suspended in the nurse’s absence.
Mark Sephton and Victoria Garrick, both members of the RCN’s gastrointestinal forum, said: “IBD patients are now twice as likely to see an IBD specialist nurse on admission and to receive the vital support that they need.
“However, it is clear that we still have a long way to go in ensuring that services have adequate provision for all their IBD patients. The RCN fully supports the revised IBD Standards.”