Shocking cost of constipation

12 August 2019

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A new report from The Bowel Interest Group has revealed the impact the subject of constipation has on the UK, including the cost to the NHS and the effect on people who experience this debilitating symptom.  

Constipation is a symptom experienced by many people with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. It can be extremely painful and uncomfortable and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating and nausea.  

The ‘Cost of Constipation’ report found that in 2017/18 constipation cost the NHS a preventable £71 million in unplanned hospital admissions. It also showed that:  

  • In 2017/18, 71,430 people with constipation were admitted to hospital in England. This is equivalent to 196 per day. 
  • Close to three quarters of these were unplanned emergency admissions, equivalent to 144 per day. 
  • £91 million was spent on prescription laxatives in 2017/18. 
  • £162 million was spent by NHS England on treating constipation in 2017/18. 
  • On average, 6.3 people visit a GP about constipation each week. 

Alongside the impact of constipation to the NHS, the report also highlighted the stigma attached to this condition, with nearly 1 in 5 people feeling embarrassed to discuss it with their GP. 

The Cost of Constipation report is calling to improve care, encourage research, and raise awareness of this symptom. By patients and healthcare professionals working together, this can help bring the cost of constipation down, reduce the charge to the NHS and improve the wellbeing of patients living with this condition.