40,000 people have this disease - half of our hospitals have no specialist nurse
The government has been urged to double the number of specialist nurses for Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients in Ireland.
Approximately 40,000 people across the country have IBD, most of whom are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30. Furthermore, paediatric cases of IBD have increased three-fold in Ireland since 2000.
However, Irish research shows that 45 percent of hospitals across the country have no specialist nurse treating IBD patients.
What is IBD?
Often starting in early childhood, both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively known as IBD) are life-long conditions for which there is currently no cure. People living with Crohn’s and colitis are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer and dying prematurely.
Most Irish patients are hospitalised within two years of diagnosis and more than half will eventually need surgery. Almost half of Irish people living with IBD have lost their job due to the condition.
Marking World IBD Day, which takes place today, Friday 19, the Irish Society for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (ISCC) has launched the #DoubleUp campaign, calling for the number of specialist Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) nurses to be increased from the current level of just 14 to at least 28, bringing Ireland in line with international best practice.
More needs to be done for patients
A survey of service providers treating patients with IBD, conducted by the Irish Society of Gastroenterology (ISG), found that the lack of dedicated specialist nurses in Ireland is the greatest barrier to delivering patient care.
According to Professor Colm O’Morain, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Trinity College Dublin and the Beacon Hospital, Dublin, the Government needs to, at a minimum, double the number of nurses in Ireland to treat IBD.
"The role these nurses play in IBD patients’ lives is incredibly powerful - providing care and specialist advice on treatment and on living with IBD day-to-day." said Dr O'Morain.
"It’s an invaluable, cost-effective and readily available service and we owe it to the growing number of patients in Ireland to deliver better care through increased levels of specialist nurses.”