Introduction Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT) has approximately 1300 IBD patients. All patients have access to an IBD helpline (as recommended by IBD standards1) which is answered by an IBD specialist nurse between 12.30–13.30 pm, Monday to Friday. The specialist nurse assesses the symptoms of the patient, answers questions, gives reassurance and advice, and arranges follow-up, hospital admission, or alterations in prescription. The patients’ perspective of the helpline was analysed in this study.
Methods To evaluate the patients’ view of the nurse-led IBD telephone helpline at BHFT. Patient views were collected by questionnaire. Questions explored the accessibility of the service, the clinical competency of the specialist nurse, and what the patient thought was useful. 134 patients attended the nurse-led IBD clinic from November 2015 to January 2016. 37 responses (28%) were received and analysed.
Results 54% of the responses were anonymous. 24% of respondents did not use the helpline. 100% of those who used the helpline found the service valuable: 86% had positive feedback; 14% had negative feedback; 100% agreed that the specialist nurse had sufficient clinical knowledge and experience to answer all questions.
Positive comments included:
The knowledge that help and advice was readily available was reassuring and provoked less anxiety.
Being able to talk about the disease to someone who understands.
Easier access to imaging, endoscopy, outpatient services, inpatient admission, and the gastroenterologists compared to GPs
Discussion of treatment options when in dilemma.
The negative comments concerned the popular demand of the service, leading to long wait times before calls were answered, and the lack of cover for sickness and leave.
Conclusion The IBD helpline is an invaluable service to the patients. It answers any immediate concerns, prioritises unwell patients in the community, and facilitates prompt investigation and clinical review. Additional investment in the service will optimise the accessibility of the helpline to the local IBD population.
Reference 1 Service Standards for the healthcare of people who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), IBD Standards Group, 2009, Standard 11A.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared