The third UK Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Audit carried out in 2010 uncovered substantial improvements in care for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease since 2006. But it said testing and treatment could still improve.
The report found that deaths among patients with ulcerative colitis fell from 1.7% to 0.8% between 2006 and 2010.
NHS care has also lowered readmission rates for both diseases. The percentage of those seen by a specialist IBD nurse during hospital admission has doubled since the first round of the audit in 2006.
The report said testing for infections such as C. difficile could improve, and all patients should be given heparin where appropriate to prevent blood clots.
It advised that patients should always have a consultation with a specialist nurse if anti-inflammatory treatment is prescribed. All Crohn’s disease patients ought to see a dietician to prevent malnutrition and, if necessary, receive support to stop smoking.
Dr Kevin Stewart, clinical director of the clinical effectiveness and evaluation unit at the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘This is really good news for patients with IBD: their care has improved right across the country. Of course we know that there are still problems, but I'm confident that we will address these in future rounds of the audit.’
The report was commissioned by watchdog the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).
The number of IBD cases is increasing and it now affects one in 200 people in the UK. The estimated cost of IBD treatment to the NHS was £720m in 2006.