The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to supporting people throughout Scotland who live with Crohn’s and colitis to receive the healthcare that they need. At the end of March, we ran an awareness campaign to complement Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s early diagnosis campaign, but we understand the importance of ensuring that people from deprived and marginalised communities can access the support and care that they need.
Our campaign placed posters in community buildings and pharmacies across Scotland in order to reach as many people as possible who might not have access to Government communication channels such as NHS Inform.
We also shared with Crohn’s and Colitis UK what we had learned about reaching marginalised and seldom-heard groups from our Covid-19 vaccination programme in order to help it to reach those groups with its own campaign.
Delays to diagnosis affect people’s ability to continue in education and work, limit their treatment options and increase their risk of being hospitalised or needing emergency surgery. Recognising the symptoms of lower gastrointestinal conditions, which are stigmatised and widely misunderstood, is crucial. What action will the Scottish Government take to improve awareness of the symptoms of Crohn’s and colitis and to reduce stigma, so that people feel confident in seeking advice and treatment when they have symptoms?
I thank Clare Adamson for getting to the nub of the issues that those who suffer from Crohn’s and colitis often report. Early diagnosis of Crohn’s and colitis is vital, and raising awareness and reducing stigma are vital in helping people to feel confident about seeking advice and treatment.
In addition to the awareness campaign that we ran earlier this year, of which I gave detail in my response to Clare Adamson’s first question, we have worked with Crohn’s and Colitis UK and clinicians to update the Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis pages of NHS Inform. We have provided funding to improve care for patients across Scotland with inflammatory bowel disease, in partnership with people who have lived experience and with our colleagues in the third sector. We will continue to support Crohn’s and Colitis UK to raise awareness of those conditions, and we are very grateful to the charity for its continued work in that area.