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Improving Bowel Care for SCI People

Everyone with an SCI should receive appropriate and safe care, regardless of where they are treated. If you have received bowel care in a general hospital since January 2019, we really would like to hear from you!

January 2020 marks a full year since all NHS Trusts should have acted on an important Patient Safety Alert and fully implemented a policy for bowel care – but have they, and has it been successful?  We would love to hear from you about your experiences of non-specialist hospitals in 2019.

Anyone with an SCI is acutely aware of the issues surrounding bowel management, especially when they are admitted to a general hospital, and the anxiety and concern this can cause. SIA regularly hears stories of poor and even unsafe bowel care from SCI people when admitted to a non-specialist setting; these stories are vitally important for us to understand where we must use our influence to get further action from the NHS on this critical issue.

Most people with an SCI need and use an established routine to manage their bowels safely and to maintain continence. However, when SCI people are admitted to a non-specialist hospital, nursing staff are often woefully ill-equipped to carry out these procedures and serious, life-threatening complications (including Autonomic Dysreflexia) can quickly follow.

In July 2018, after significant lobbying by SIA, the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland sent a Patient Safety Alert to every NHS Trust or Health Board. This demanded that they update their policies to provide manual bowel evacuation to SCI people, and training for staff to undertake the process. SIA welcomed the Patient Safety Alert as a good first step and followed it up by sending out a sample policy for bowel care interventions, which hospitals could adopt to deliver safe bowel care to SCI people.

We want poor bowel care to end. Our ongoing campaigning work in this area, the issuing of the Patient Safety Alert, and the tireless work of SIA’s SCI Nurse Specialists and Peer Support Officers, is all with the aim of making real changes to the way bowel care support for SCI people in general hospitals is provided.

If you have received bowel care – whether good or bad – in a non-specialist hospital in 2019 then please tell us about it. Email [email protected] with your story and help us ensure that no SCI person need endure poor bowel care in the future.

Report your experiences

In the event of you or a family member receiving poor bowel care you can report this – and any other concerns that you may have about your own, or another individual’s care – to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  The CQC will take that information and use it as a basis for determining whether an inspection of the premises and the care delivered is appropriate.  Concerns can be raised via the CQC website: www.cqc.org.uk