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Spinal Injuries Association calls for better NHS bowel care

London, UK: Dr Rupert Earl, Trustee and Honorary Lead on Care Policy for the Spinal Injuries Association, is calling today for more and better NHS bowel care provision for spinal cord injured people.

Recent research undertaken by the Spinal Injuries Association and the personal experiences of its 10,000 members show that NHS provision of good bowel care is mixed with wide variations in the quality of care and how it is provided. For example, in a 2016 Freedom of Information request, 52% of hospital trusts reported they have no policy or guidelines in place, whilst 90% of community trusts have a policy or guidelines. 41% of trusts did not run courses to train their staff in digital bowel care techniques. Additionally, a 2014 patient survey on bowel management showed that 49% of respondents had been refused assistance and 40% had developed other complications as a result of the bowel care they had (or had not) received in hospital.

Speaking today at an RCN Workshop  on neurogenic bowel care, Dr Earl highlighted that the personal needs of spinal cord injured people must be appropriately met when they use the NHS, but that too often this is not the case. Wide variations in provision and the quality of care provided lead to disruptions to the daily routine, risk further health complications and threaten the dignity of patients.  He said:

 “Bowel care is a fundamental and essential part of daily care for spinal cord injured people. It helps people lead fulfilled lives with dignity and respect. NHS provision is patchy and the quality of that provision frequently poor. For too long spinal cord injured people have not received appropriate or timely bowel management when admitted to many general hospital settings. We are calling for all Trusts to recognize the importance of good bowel care by having robust policies and guidelines in place. Nursing staff need to be trained to provide appropriate bowel management for SCI people using NHS services and only then will SCI people have the confidence that their needs will be met.”

The Spinal Injuries Association has shared this information with NHS England and the Royal College of Nursing. It is now working with these organisations to dispel the myths and misunderstandings amongst commissioners, nurses and other healthcare professionals regarding neurogenic bowel care and to promote good practice.

For more information contact: Sophie Davis, Communications and Marketing Officer

Telephone: 01908 604191 ext. 216

Email: [email protected]