Information from Frimley Park Hospital IBD team to patients
We are writing to update you on the situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). We are aware that this may be an anxious time for you and hope that the information below will give you reassurance.
The British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and NHS England have recently issued guidance for IBD patients. This is based on the latest clinical evidence and recommendations from experts around the UK. A summary of this is below.
Risk categories and recommendations for safe social isolation
Patients should be classified into different groups depending on their condition and treatment as explained in the table below.
Those in the high and moderate risk groups must take the most stringent measures to protect themselves from COVID-19 and should self-isolate for at least 12 weeks. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
You will receive separate notification if you are in these risk groups, which explains the actions required. The Frimley IBD team is aware that at the present time there are slight variations in recommendations from different professional bodies. The department has reviewed these and has decided to follow the recommendations by NHS England that are explained in this letter.
Those in the lowest risk group have a similar risk profile to the general population and, although not advised to self-isolate, should take precautions to reduce their risk should has regular handwashing and social distancing.
If you are unclear on your level of risk, contact the IBD helpline for further advice.
The hospital has been instructed to reduce face-to-face clinical interactions wherever possible to minimise risk of infection. Therefore, it is very likely that any outpatient interaction over the next few months will be via the telephone or video link and you will not need to visit the hospital. Some routine appointments may need to be suspended or rescheduled to a later time. We regret that this is the case but the IBD team is under significant pressure with some team members being redeployed to cover other roles in the hospital. This means that we have to concentrate our resources and prioritise urgent work over routine or that that can be safely deferred.
The IBD helpline will continue to operate at all times. We ask that you use this service with consideration given the current limited resources. The helpline welcomes contact from patients who are having a flare of their IBD or those with queries relating to their immunosuppressant medications. At this time, the helpline is unable to assist with administrative issues such as rescheduling of outpatient appointments or non-urgent test results.
The contact details for the IBD service are:
The majority of patients obtain their prescription from their GP and should continue this as normal. They are advised that GP surgeries are also busy and it is recommended that patients check their supply and order repeat prescriptions with plenty of notice. The hospital cannot assist with supplies of medication for these patients.
Patients who receive their medications from the hospital should ensure they have sufficient supplies. Please give a minimum of 7 days’ notice for any repeat prescription requests, which should be made via email Fhft.firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your date of birth and medications required.
Patients are advised not to take steroids (prednisolone) without discussion with the IBD team. If any patients are prescribed these medications by their GP, they must contact the IBD helpline before starting. If you are already on prednisolone, please do not stop this abruptly but notify the IBD team.
Top tips for everyone with IBD
Don’t stop your medication as risks are increased if you have an IBD flare.
Ensure you have a good supply of medication.
Do not take steroids (prednisolone) from your GP without discussing with the IBD team.
Contact the IBD helpline via the phone or email helpline if you are experiencing a flare.
Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, this goes for everyone.
Work from home if possible, avoid non-essential travel and contact with people who are currently unwell.
Consider stopping smoking as this increases the risk and severity of COVID-19 infection.
Keep yourself up-to-date and check the latest guidance on Crohn’s and colitis UK website
If you are unclear on your level of risk, contact your local IBD helpline for further advice
If you develop a cough, fever or flu-like symptoms you should follow the government’s recommendations about self-isolation and household quarantine. If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service (https://111.nhs.uk). If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
With best wishes
Frimley Hospital IBD Team
Any further questions do get in touch