3 steps towards greater equality: What we need to see from the Welsh and Scottish elections

26 April 2021

As part of our mission to improve the lives of people with Crohn’s and Colitis, we work to improve health and public services together with healthcare professionals, policy makers and governments. We have been working with government departments, policy makers and parliamentarians across the UK to raise your concerns and help ensure that services and support meet your needs.

This May, General Elections are taking place in Wales and Scotland. Over the last year, the Coronavirus pandemic has had profound effects on people’s lives. For people with Crohn's and Colitis and other hidden health conditions, many of whom have been shielding for large periods of the last 12 months, there have been mixed experiences. Many faced problems such the closure of public toilets and difficulties accessing their health care team, yet some saw unexpected positives such as greater acceptance of flexible work and study options.

We’re taking this opportunity to send our Manifesto to all parliamentary candidates, calling on them to support our call for 3 steps towards greater equality for more than 24,000 people in Wales and 44,000 people in Scotland who live with Crohn’s and Colitis1.

We are asking for equality of care, equality of access, and equality of opportunity for all people in Wales and Scotland who live with Crohn’s or Colitis. To achieve this, we need to see changes to health services, access to public toilets, and employment and education.

Health Services

Health services for people with IBD vary in quality and content both within Wales and Scotland and when compared across the four nations of the UK.

The forthcoming IBD UK National Report showed that one of the key issues in both Wales and Scotland is the variation in terms of IBD service provision, processes, and staffing levels between services meaning people with Crohn’s and Colitis don’t always have access to the full range of specialist care they need.

We are calling on Welsh and Scottish Governments to promote equality of care by reducing unacceptable variation in health provision for people living in Wales and Scotland which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

We are calling for 3 steps towards greater equality of care. Welsh and Scottish Governments must prioritise rapid access to diagnosis and treatment for people with Crohn’s and Colitis, agree national minimums for staffing levels in IBD multidisciplinary teams (in line with the 2019 IBD Standards), and develop supported self-management programmes for people living with the conditions.

Toilets

Access to public and accessible toilet provision is essential to work, leisure, education and travel when urgent and frequent diarrhoea is a clinically recognised symptom of your condition. But such provision varies widely across Wales and Scotland, both in the built environment and on public transport.

We need the Welsh and Scottish Governments to promote equality of access by ensuring that people with Crohn's and Colitis can access free, clean, publicly available toilets when they need them.

We are suggesting 3 steps towards greater equality of access. We need Welsh and Scottish Governments to ensure that provision of public toilet facilities are enhanced and encourage local councils to provide easily accessible, ‘live’ information about the availability of public toilets, and see Not Every Disability is Visible signage displayed in all accessible toilets.

New Ways of Working Post-COVID-19

Employers, schools and other education institutions across both Wales and Scotland vary in the level of adjustments they make for employees, pupils and students who have fluctuating long-term conditions such as Crohn’s and Colitis.

We are asking for Welsh and Scottish Governments to promote equality of opportunity by ensuring that the new choices which emerged for people with Crohn's and Colitis during the COVID-19 pandemic around flexible working, study and access to healthcare are built into service recovery and ‘resetting’ agendas across all policy sectors in Wales.

We are suggesting 3 steps towards greater equality of opportunity. We need Welsh and Scottish Governments to work with the education sector to support those with long-term health conditions to learn from home when necessary, work with employers to make reasonable adjustments and support flexible working for employees with long-term health conditions, and promote the use of remote health monitoring to improve the patient experience.

The impact of the pandemic has been significant and people with Crohn’s and Colitis have had mixed experiences. It is important that the next Government addresses the problem areas which have been all too evident, but also seeks to ensure that these positives are maintained so that people with long-term health conditions can participate more equally in society.

Wayne Lewis, Policy Lead (Wales) and Elaine Steven, Policy Lead (Scotland and Northern Ireland) at Crohn’s & Colitis UK

These elections are a chance to see change for people living with Crohn’s and Colitis. We won’t stop speaking up for them until we’ve achieved our goal of a world that understands and empowers people with Crohn’s and Colitis to live well and thrive. After the elections, we will be following up with successful candidates to work together towards greater equality for people living with Crohn’s and Colitis.

Thank you for your continued support.

Read the full manifestos here:

Manifesto for Wales - Welsh language

Manifesto for Wales - English language

Manifesto for Scotland