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Joint commitment to drive up SCI bowel care standards announced.

Spinal Injuries Association has joined forces with the leading bodies representing spinal cord injury care experts: MASCIP (Multidisciplinary Association of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals) and BASCIS (British Association of Spinal Cord Injury Specialists)* to end the lottery of poor bowel care that spinal cord injured people have to endure when they are admitted to non-specialist hospitals and sometimes in the community.

Most people with a spinal cord injury need and use an established routine to manage their bowel safely and to maintain continence. But when SCI people are admitted to non-specialist hospitals, nursing staff are often woefully ill-equipped to carry out these procedures and serious life threatening complications such as Autonomic Dysreflexia can quickly follow (NHS Improvement Patient Safety Alert). SIA’s own research has shown that 43% of NHS hospital Trusts do not have a policy or guidelines in place, whilst 41% of Trusts do not run courses to train staff in bowel care techniques. An SIA bowel management survey of SIA members who are spinal cord injured saw half of respondents rating bowel management in their hospital as only 0/10 or 1/10 with 40% saying they had developed other complications as a result of the bowel care – or lack of it – they had received.

The Statement urges all clinicians and nursing staff to recognise the crucial value of good and appropriate bowel care for SCI people and to maintain the person’s already established routine, providing the necessary trained staff to ensure that these procedures can be undertaken in a timely way.

Dr Rupert Earl, Chair of Spinal Injuries Association said:

“This Statement is an important step forward in ensuring that spinal cord injured people get the safe care and support they deserve when they are cared for in a non-specialist setting such as a district general hospital or in the community. Our own members consistently share harrowing tales of the poor bowel care they receive. Our own determined efforts have ensured that every NHS Trust has been instructed by NHS Improvement to have policies and procedures, as well as trained staff to meet these needs and this Statement, from the country’s leading experts reinforces the message that poor bowel care or failure to deliver SCI-appropriate bowel care must end. We look forward to the day when no SCI person will view an admission to hospital with fear and trepidation”.

He added:

“Good bowel care is a right not a privilege. Bowel Care is every nurse’s business.

If you’ve had a bad experience:

· email and let us know
· refer yourself to the local Safeguarding Team
· Submit a Patient Safety Incident report to NHS Improvement
· put in a formal complaint via PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service).”

BASCIS, MASCIP & SIA Statement on SCI Bowel Management: November 2018*

*Since this statement was released we are delighted that the Royal College of Nursing has given its approval to the statement.