Cam­paign seeks to dou­ble IDB spe­cial­ist nurses

Bray People - - NEWS - By MYLES BUCHANAN

A COUNTY Wick­low woman is sup­port­ing ef­forts to dou­ble the num­ber of spe­cial­ist In­flam­ma­tory Bowel Dis­ease (IBD) nurses.

Aoife Mul­hall from Bray is back­ing calls made by the Ir­ish So­ci­ety for Col­i­tis and Crohn’s Dis­ease (ISCC) to dou­ble the num­ber of IBD nurses from 14 to 28. An ISCC del­e­ga­tion met with Health Min­is­ter Si­mon Har­ris in Novem­ber of last year and pre­sented him with a pe­ti­tion con­tain­ing over 3,600 sig­na­tures, sup­port­ing the ISCC’s #Dou­bleUp cam­paign.

At the time, Min­is­ter Har­ris said he didn’t see any rea­son why the dou­bling of nurses couldn’t be ac­com­mo­dated as part of the re­cruit­ment drive for ad­vanced nurse prac­ti­tion­ers

To high­light the days since the meet­ing with the Min­is­ter, the ISCC has launched a clock on its web­site which is counting up­wards from the date of the meet­ing and will re­main live un­til the 14 ad­di­tional IBD nurses are in place.

Aoife was di­ag­nosed with IBD eight years ago and is urg­ing Min­is­ter Har­ris to re­cruit fur­ther spe­cial­ist nurses.

‘I was quite lucky be­cause I was di­ag­nosed very quickly. My brother was di­ag­nosed five years be­fore me so I knew what the warn­ing signs were. The spe­cial­ist nurses are of huge as­sis­tance,’ she said.

‘ There are over 40,000 peo­ple across the coun­try with IBD, most of whom are di­ag­nosed be­tween the ages of 15 and 30. But there still aren’t enough spe­cial­ist nurses. They pro­vide great sup­port and know all about the va­ri­ety of symp­toms and how peo­ple re­act in dif­fer­ent ways.

‘It can be a dif­fi­cult dis­ease to talk about and the ex­perts un­der­stand the dis­ease. Spe­cial­ist IBD nurses pro­vide de­tailed ad­vice on treat­ment for the con­di­tion and on how to cope with IBD on a day to day ba­sis,’ said Aoife.

The orig­i­nal call to have the num­ber of IBD nurses dou­bled arose from a sur­vey of ser­vice providers treat­ing pa­tients with IBD, which found that the lack of ded­i­cated spe­cial­ist nurses in Ire­land is the great­est bar­rier to de­liv­er­ing pa­tient care.

Some peo­ple find the con­di­tion dif­fi­cult or em­bar­rass­ing to talk about, which is an­other rea­son why ex­pert nurses are so im­por­tant.

‘You just have to live day to day with it,’ said Aoife. ‘Most days you could be fine but then an­other day you might feel aw­ful. It can re­sult in stom­ach pains, di­ar­rhoea, vom­it­ing and fa­tigue. Some peo­ple start to bleed and get arthri­tis. Th­ese aren’t the eas­i­est symp­toms to talk about and some peo­ple find it very dif­fi­cult to open up. Spe­cial­ist nurses of­fer the ex­act sup­port that so many IBD suf­fer­ers are lack­ing.’

Most Ir­ish pa­tients are hos­pi­talised within two years of di­ag­no­sis and more than half will re­quire surgery at some stage. Peo­ple in Wick­low liv­ing with (IBD) have been urged to con­tact lo­cal Gov­ern­ment TDs to re­mind them of the ur­gent need to dou­ble the num­ber of spe­cial­ist IBD nurses.

The on­line pe­ti­tion is avail­able at­bleup-for-ibd.

IBD pa­tient Aoife Mul­hall from Bray (right) with fel­low pa­tient Clara Caslin and spe­cial­ist nurse An­gela Mullen.

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