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Flare pathways launched to help GPs

Published 06 June 2019

Today the RCGP and Crohn's& Colitis UK IBD Spotlight Project announce the launch of new Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis flare pathways, developed to help GPs better support their Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients in primary care.

The RCGP and Crohn’s & Colitis UK IBD Spotlight Project started in 2017, with the aim to improve the detection and diagnosis of IBD and to support primary care doctors to increase their awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis, carry out initial investigations and refer people with suspected Crohn’s or Colitis appropriately to secondary care. The project is now focusing on flare management and how GPs can support their patients to manage their condition long-term.

Around 50% of patients experience at least 1 relapse a year, which can have a huge impact on physical wellbeing, self-esteem and ability to go to work, school or socialise. For the NHS, it is two-three times more expensive to treat patients in a flare compared to those in remission.

GPs are often the first person people with Crohn’s or Colitis will turn to when having a suspected flare, yet 52% are less than confident or not confident if a patient visits their clinic with a flare-up. The new flare pathways provide advice on steroid intervention, dose escalation, and when to refer to secondary care. This promotes shared care between GPs and hospitals, meaning suitable patients can be appropriately managed in primary care with rapid access to advice from the IBD team if is needed. It aims to give both GPs and patients confidence to know what to do when in a flare.

Endorsed by the British Society for Gastroenterology, the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and the Royal College of General Practitioners, these pathways have been designed as two single easy to follow pages, one for Crohn’s Disease and one for Ulcerative Colitis. The pathways are available in digital form and to download on the IBD toolkit as a readily available resource for GPs.

Dr Kevin Barrett, Clinical Champion for the RCGP and Crohn’s & Colitis UK IBD Spotlight Project, who has led the creation of the flare pathways says: 
“It is fantastic that we have two new resources available to support GPs if their patients with Crohn’s or Colitis are having a flare. These pathways have been co-created with patients, GPs, IBD nurse specialists and gastroenterologists, and, with the endorsement from three key organisations, they are a credible resource that we hope primary care professionals will start using immediately.”

Elaine Steven, Health Service Programme Manager at Crohn’s & Colitis UK says: 
“We’re delighted that the RCGP and Crohn’s & Colitis UK IBD Spotlight Project is making a difference in the way that GPs manage their IBD patients. Developing resources such as the new flare pathways will hopefully give GPs greater confidence, ultimately leading to better care and improved outcomes for people with Crohn’s and Colitis.”

The RCGP and Crohn's & Colitis UK IBD Spotlight Project would not be possible without the support of the Peter Sowerby Foundation.

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