Through its modernising patient pathways programme, the Scottish Government has been working closely with health boards and Crohn’s and Colitis UK in recent years to improve IBD services, pathways and patient outcomes across Scotland.
That includes the development of a series of self-management tools, care plans, a mobile app and supporting the pilot of a new specialist IBD community nurse model. In addition, we are currently trialling flare cards in NHS Lothian. Those provide people with quick and easy advice on the immediate steps that they can take to help manage unpredictable and fluctuating symptoms. The cards were co-developed with Crohn’s and Colitis UK and will shortly be extended to a further two health board areas: NHS Grampian and NHS Borders, with the intention of rolling their use out across the rest of Scotland, subject to further evaluation.
I thank the minister for the information regarding flare cards.
Based on discussions in the cross-party group on IBD, I understand that different health boards have different pathways for diagnosis and treatment of people; some are using primary care options and some are using secondary care options. In that context, what is the Government doing to ensure that there are clear pathways and protocols available to IBD sufferers across Scotland, and that those pathways are in line with best practice?
First, I pay tribute to the work of the Parliament’s cross-party group on IBD and to Clare Adamson for the interest that she has shown in IBD over some years. The modernising patient pathways programme is leading on a series of national workshops with the gastroenterology community across Scotland, with a view to producing evidence-based standardised pathways for people who present with lower gastrointestinal symptoms, including those with an IBD diagnosis.
Children and young people with inflammatory bowel disease are often misdiagnosed, which results in multiple hospital admissions and absences from school. An early diagnosis is a significant factor, given the huge rise in paediatric inflammatory bowel disease, which is mainly driven by Crohn’s disease. What steps will the Scottish Government and the NHS take to improve diagnosis for children and young people who have inflammatory bowel disease?
Mary Fee has raised an important issue. The Scottish Government has been investing in research by Cure Crohn’s Colitis and the Crohn’s and colitis in childhood research project, which is led by Professor Charlie Lees, a consultant gastroenterologist based at the Western general hospital.
The project will help to determine what causes disease flare-ups in some patients, and has the potential to lead to the development of personalised therapy for colitis. The project that I referred to is the PREdiCCT—prognostic effect of environmental factors in Crohn’s and colitis—study. There is investment in and research on this important issue in Scotland.