NHS Improvement has sent a Patient Safety Alert to every NHS Trust – hospital provider, community trust and specialist trust. This important notice reminds NHS providers that they must have the policies and procedures as well as appropriately trained staff in place to meet the bowel care needs of spinal cord injured (SCI) people.
Spinal Injuries Association welcome the publication of the Patient Safety Alert but call for support to ensure that every SCI person gets the bowel care they need and deserve.
Dr Rupert Earl, Chair of SIA said:
“Following a sustained campaign by SIA, we welcome the publication today by NHS Improvement of an important Patient Safety Alert regarding intimate digital bowel care interventions for SCI patients. Our members all too frequently report harrowingly bad experiences of digital bowel care both when they are admitted to NHS non-specialist hospital settings and in NHS community nursing provision.
A lack of training, an absence of Trust-wide policies and guidelines and a reluctance to continue the patients’ normal routine all mean that SCI patients are not getting the care they need when admitted. A recent Freedom of Information survey on this issue has shown that 52% of NHS hospital Trusts who responded reported that they have no policy or guidelines in place whilst 41% of trusts did not run courses to train staff in bowel care techniques. An SIA bowel management survey of SIA members 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.
SIA welcomes this Alert as an important first step in providing crucially important care for SCI patients, care that requires trained NHS staff competent and confident in digital bowel care procedures, appropriate policies and guidelines in place and an oversight process to ensure that SCI people are getting the care they need and deserve.
Whilst focusing particularly on those SCI people at risk of Autonomic Dysreflexia, we recognise that inadequate or actual failure to deliver appropriate bowel care is an issue confronting many more people with a SCI, and SIA will continue to press for best practice to be the norm for all SCI people with neurogenic bowel dysfunction.”