IBD specialist nurses
Our IBD specialist nurses offer patients information, education and support about all aspects of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, including any treatments they may receive. Their aim is to help patients live well with IBD and manage their condition as successfully as possible.
There are two IBD clinical nurse specialists at Colchester Hospital – Joy Mason and Kelly Turner. They provide a variety of different services designed to keep people well while ensuring they receive the best possible care and treatment. This includes:
Our gastroenterology service
Our gastroenterology team are responsible for medically managing and monitoring IBD patients at Colchester Hospital, with care beginning on referral and continuing throughout their lifetime. Their aim is to help as many patients as possible into remission so that they can stay well and enjoy their normal life.
The team works closely with our IBD nurses, surgeons, dietitians and radiologists to make sure that patients receive high quality, well-coordinated care. Wherever possible, patients will remain with the same consultant throughout their lifetime so that they can benefit from continuity of care.
Patients with suspected Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will be referred to our gastroenterology team by their GP. An outpatient appointment will be arranged as quickly as possible so that our consultants can hear more about the patient’s symptoms, carry out examinations and arrange tests, such as an endoscopy.
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, our gastroenterologists will work with patients to try and get them into remission. Initially, this usually involves prescribing medication to reduce inflammation in the gut, in turn helping to relieve symptoms.
Patients may need to try more than one medication until they find the drug which is best suited to them. Our doctors will explain more about each medication during the patient’s appointment, including any potential side effects, and will also encourage them to ask any questions they may have. Our aim is to find the right treatment as quickly as possible to give patients a better chance to moving into remission.
Once a patient’s condition is under control, we will usually continue to prescribe drugs to maintain their remission and stop their condition from relapsing.
In some cases, the gastroenterologists may refer a patient to our surgeons for treatment. This can happen if medication stops working, or in young patients where surgery may be the most appropriate way to help them get well more quickly.
Our gastroenterology team is responsible for caring for IBD patients who are admitted to Colchester Hospital for urgent treatment, such as managing a fistula. They will be alerted when a patient with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis is admitted so that they can be quickly transferred to the Langham Ward, where they will be cared for by our specialist staff alongside other patients with IBD.
As IBD is a remitting and relapsing condition, patients will remain under the care of our gastroenterology team throughout their lives. Those in remission will be asked to come for an appointment every two years, while others who are still experiencing symptoms may be invited annually. Those whose condition is still active will see their doctor more regularly.
During these appointments, the consultant will ask about the patient’s bowel movements and whether they are experiencing any abdominal pain. They may also take blood tests and stool samples to check if the disease is progressing.
Patients are encouraged to ask any questions they may have about their medication during their appointment. The clinics are held at the same time as those run by our IBD specialist nurses, which means they are also available to offer further advice whenever necessary.
The prospect of having an operation can be daunting. In this section we cover what you are likely to expect from when you and your surgeon decide you need an operation. It will cover some of the more common procedures and what to expect.
On the day of surgery
You will come to the Elective Care Centre (ECC). This is located on the first floor of the hospital opposite the canteen. Most patients are asked to come in for 7am. Your operation may be later in the day but this gives us the opportunity to re-discuss the procedure, answer any final questions, and for you to meet the rest of the surgical team that will be looking after you. It also gives us the chance to perform any blood tests or other tests before your anaesthetic. Also, on occasion, other patients on the operating list may no longer require surgery or are not fit for surgery on the planned day and they may be re-booked so the order of patients may change on the day so that is why we invite all patients in so early.
You will meet the Consultant anaesthetist and the rest of the anaesthetic team. This is the person that will be putting you to sleep and waking you up. They also are with you throughout the operation whilst you are asleep under anaesthetic making sure you are kept safe during the anaesthetic. This is your opportunity to discuss pain relief and any issues you may have had with previous anaesthetics. Then you will be escorted down to the room adjacent to the main theatre by a nurse from the elective care centre. In this room called the anaesthetic room some more checks are done by the theatre team before you are put to sleep.
We, for every patient undertake what is called the World Health Organisation (WHO) checklist and this is a world-wide improvement project that we take part in so don’t worry if you keep being asked your name and if you have any allergies- this is all part of making sure every person involved in your care can keep you as safe as possible. Once you are asleep, you will then be wheeled on your bed into the main operating theatre where the surgical team will be waiting for you.
Here at Colchester Hospital, we are a recognised centre of excellence for laparoscopic surgery and in 2009 were designated as a national laparoscopic training centre by the Department of Health. All of our surgeons are experts in laparoscopy and are also involved in training other surgeons in specialist laparoscopic techniques nationally and internationally, as well as at the ICENI centre which is our-on site post-graduate surgical training centre.
Before the advent of laparoscopic surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) patients usually had large incisions on the abdomen that were not only painful, but also meant they were in hospital longer. Laparoscopic surgery involves using a special camera and instruments that go through little holes or ports are we call them through the skin. Your surgeon is then able to operate whilst viewing the operation on a large screen.
We have been doing laparoscopic surgery here in Colchester since the 1970’s. There is overwhelming evidence that patients have less pain and recover more quickly after a laparoscopic procedure. The majority of our IBD patients will be offered a laparoscopic approach to their surgery, even when they have had previous abdominal surgery and for complex fistulating disease. There are some instances when laparoscopic surgery may not possible and your surgeon will discuss this with you. Whatever method you and your surgeon decide, the most important factor is that it is the safest procedure and approach for you.
Types of bowel surgery for IBD
We commonly talk about the large bowel and the small bowel. The small bowel connects the stomach to the large bowel. The junction where the small bowel joins the large bowel this is called the ileo-caecal junction. The large bowel then leads into the rectum and anus. It is important to know which bit of your bowel is affected as this has important implications about your recovery and what to expect after the operation.
Let’s start with the small bowel. As mentioned this connects the stomach to the large bowel. This can be affected in Crohn’s disease. Most people have between 250-800cm of small bowel with the average being about 600cm.
More information is available in leaflet form on the ‘Information Leaflets’ page.
Children and young people
We run a dedicated transition service to help young patients make the change from children’s to adult services at the age of 16. This sees our nurses invite teenage patients into the hospital in the run up to their birthday to look at all aspects of their general health, before focusing specifically on their IBD diagnosis and any medication or treatment they may be receiving.
Patients and their families will then be asked to come to a specialist joint gastroenterology transition clinic in the children’s outpatient department. During this appointment, they will have the opportunity to meet the adult team taking over their longer-term care and can ask any questions they may have. They will also be given the contact details for the hospital’s adult IBD nurses. The appointment aims to help to reduce any anxiety they may have about moving to adult services.
The transition service will work with teenage patients for as long as necessary while they gradually build more independence by learning how to manage their condition and cope with any side effects.
Our clinical nurse specialists in stoma care aim to help patients to live well after stoma surgery by providing them with information, education and support, as well as advice on the right products to suit their own personal circumstances.
There are two stoma clinical nurse specialists and a stoma care support nurse at Colchester Hospital. The majority of their work – around 45% – is with patients with IBD, while they also support those with cancer and incontinence.
More information is available in leaflet form on the ‘Information Leaflets’ page.
Our research team work closely with patients and our clinicians to contribute to cutting-edge studies designed to help improve care and treatment for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They identify research projects which our hospital could take part in, bid for funding and help recruit suitable patients, as well as offering participants support throughout the study and beyond. The team also make sure the right consents are in place and that the strict ethical standards associated with all research projects are met.
We want to make sure that anyone who wishes to help with a study is able to do so, and will contact suitable patients directly to ask if they would like to take part.
We are currently contributing to three major IBD research projects. They are:
For more information about the studies taking place at Colchester, please contact our research team on 01206 746229
You can find more information about every project taking place across the country at the UK Clinical Trials Gateway, while national charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK also includes details about current research on its website.
As well as regular multi-disciplinary clinics, the Colchester IBD Centre holds monthly IBD MDTs (multi-disciplinary team meetings). This gives the opportunity for patients with IBD to have their scans reviewed by the radiologist, gastroenterologists and surgeons. Input is also given by the specialist IBD nurses and dieticians. This allows a holistic approach to patient care.
In addition, complex patients can also be discussed at a joint MDT held with the Royal London Hospital via a tele-link.
Our dietitians provide specialist advice to help patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) manage their symptoms, stabilise their condition and enjoy normal, everyday activities. Two specialist gastro-surgical dietitians work at Colchester Hospital, and offer individual, tailored care with the aim of helping patients eat a healthy, varied diet which provides the right nutrition to meet their needs.
Their work covers two areas:
The physiotherapy team is integral to the care of surgical patients in the post-operative period. Their aim is to progress patients promptly and effectively, resulting in enhanced recovery that helps patients to avoid chest infections and general overall deconditioning.
The team teaches patients ACBT (Active Cycle of Breathing Technique) and supported cough whilst encouraging early mobilization. This reduces the risk of post-operative chest infection and enables the patient to self-manage their secretions. By supporting patients with these techniques, it helps patients get better more quickly and return to independence.
Patients who have had major surgery for IBD will normally see a physiotherapist 4 times each day. This can include an exercise class aimed at enhancing recovery by engaging patients in light exercise, involving light weights, catching exercises and even some games.
Before leaving hospital, patients are given education about post-operative precautions and how to continue their rehabilitation at home. Where needed, community physiotherapy can be arranged to help the patient progress at home.