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Disparities in NHS bowel care found

23rd March 2009

An audit carried out by the Royal College of Physicians has shown there are"unacceptable" variations in NHS treatment for inflammatory bowel disease in the UK.

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The audit said although some care had been enhanced recently, services provided by dieticians and psychologists were especially weak.

In the UK, one in 250 people suffer from either ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which cause severe diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.

In people with the conditions, 80% of Crohn's disease sufferers and a quarter of ulcerative colitis patients need surgical treatment. The health service sees 30,000 hospital admissions annually in connection with the conditions.

The first audit into NHS services for the conditions was carried out in 2006 and found failing in hospital treatment and specialist care.

The most recent audit, which reviewed 87% of hospitals, showed that lavatory provisions were insufficient and only a third of Crohn's sufferers were seen by a dietician during their hospital stay.

Only 10% of hospitals offered patients with inflammatory bowel disease the option of seeing a psychologist.

Dr Ian Arnott, clinical lead of the audit, said that although there had been a recent improvement in care "there is clearly more work to be done."

Wendy Buckley, assistant director at The Health Foundation, the charity which provided funding for the audit, said they found the improvements encouraging.

"However there are still areas where improvements need to be made to the services and quality of clinical care delivered to patients."

"This audit gives us a better picture of where there are still gaps between current and best practice." 

 

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