Spotlight on Crohn’s and Colitis in Wales ahead of World IBD Day

17 May 2019

On Wednesday 15 May Crohn’s & Colitis UK and IBD Wales invited politicians, healthcare professionals and constituents to the Oriel at the Senedd to raise awareness of the impact of living with Crohn’s or Colitis.

The event gave people with Crohn’s or Colitis the opportunity to explain to their Assembly Members (AMs) the effect this condition has had on their lives, fitting in with our It Takes Guts campaign launching on World IBD Day.  The purpose of the campaign is to encourage people, including those with the condition, politicians and policy makers, to talk about these invisible illnesses. We want to reduce the stigma surrounding these conditions and to discuss how we can improve health services in Wales.

The event was a huge success, with almost a third of all AMs from across Wales turning up as well as Welsh Government representatives. They pledged their support towards those with Crohn’s or Colitis, and were hugely receptive to working with us to help improve Health Services in Wales. 

We heard powerful stories from supporters, fantastic influencers such as Amber Davies (picture above centre), who is running a 10km in her underwear to raise awareness, and Olympic athlete Brett Morse (pictured above right).

Colorectal surgeon Barry Appleton took to the stage, discussing the new Welsh Surgical Charter - more of which to follow, and gastroenterologist Ieuan Davies was also in attendance talking about the impact of Crohn’s and Colitis on children.

This event was part of Crohn’s & Colitis UK’s ongoing work as part of IBD Wales, a group of organisations and experts including people with Crohn’s or Colitis committed to improving standard of care for people with Crohn’s and Colitis in Wales. Crohn’s & Colitis UK and IBD Wales have been working with the Welsh Government and all seven Health Boards to look at current IBD services and agree priorities that aim to improve the lives of people with Crohn’s and Colitis. We are asking for the support of AMs to engage with Health Boards in order to:

  • Raise the issue of improving services for people with Crohn’s and Colitis in their local area.
  • Encourage Health Boards to engage with the new UK IBD Standards and to benchmark their services against these Standards, leading to planning and improvement.
  • Support IBD Wales and its work with Welsh Government in setting national priorities for Crohn’s and Colitis.

In a 2019 questionnaire, no Health Board was able to state how many people they have in their area who are living with Crohn’s or Colitis, and services for people with Crohn’s and Colitis are inconsistent and vary in quality across Wales – this needs to change.

The event showed that the commitment of staff in Wales is not in question, but we need Health Boards to commit resources to support people living with Crohn’s and Colitis. Our event at the Senedd was an incredible meeting of AMs and their constituents, shining a much-needed light upon these invisible conditions. We’re looking forward to taking conversations had on the day forward with politicians to progress with positive change. The day wouldn’t have been possible without our volunteers, those who told their stories and everyone who emailed their AMs inviting them to attend. Thank you!

Wayne Lewis,
Health Service Project Manager for Crohn’s & Colitis UK in Wales