HSJ special report on Crohn’s and Colitis UK

16 February 2017

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has published a special report that explores the value offered by IBD specialist nurses – something that Crohn’s and Colitis UK has been emphasising through our 'More IBD Nurses – Better Care' campaign.

The aim of the article is to convince hospital chief executives and officials to invest in greater efficiencies and excellent patient care as well as offering help with local service development and business planning.

The supplement has three main themes:

  1. Value for money, and cost savings
  2. Lead service redesign, which bolsters quality
  3. Offers excellence in patient care and experience

David Barker, Crohn’s and Colitis UK chief executive comments in the article that he admits it’s obvious for a patient organisation to support a staff group so often associated with excellent care. But he wants holders of purse strings to understand the benefits of investing in specialist nursing go beyond high-quality care.

"There is no money in the NHS – we all know that, and all know it’s about how do we get more for the same, or in some cases more for less. Service redesign is critical to that, and where we’re seeing real successes IBD specialist nurses have sat at the heart of that."

“There are just so many benefits on so many levels to having good specialist IBD nurse provision. If you look at the power of a nurse in supporting patients, saving money, avoiding admittance to a hospital, avoiding inappropriate outpatient appointments, avoiding A&E, there is a very, very powerful case to be made for the difference they can make.”

The problem is that a third of patients report no access to an expert IBD nurse, and 63 per cent of services do not have enough nurses to meet national standards. That means A&E or the GP becomes the point of call.

“Where nurses are running effective advice lines, patients with complex Crohn’s or complex ulcerative colitis – or a flare of a straightforward condition – don’t pitch up at A&E,” argues Ms Mason, a nurse consultant at Royal Free London Foundation Trust and IBD nursing development manager at Crohn's and Colitis UK.

“They call the nurse and the nurse manages them appropriately. Sometimes that’s without the patient even needing to attend the hospital, or by the nurse putting them into the right acute management pathway so avoiding A&E. That’s a massive cost saving and something that everyone wants. Nobody wants general A&E doctors having to deal with the complexities of IBD management.”

At Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the belief in the value of these nurses is such that campaigning for more is at the heart of the charity’s strategy. The 'More IBD Nurses – Better Care' campaign aims to get to a point where 95 percent of the organisation’s supporters have access to a named and appropriately trained IBD Nurse.