EMAIL FROM DR WU - ADVICE RE CORONAVIRUS

Following the number of patient enquiries regarding their IBD and COVID-19 issues, I wondered whether there was a possibility if you could circulate the advice below to your members as I want to make sure that patients are informed and reassured about their condition. At the present time, the situation at the hospital is very fluid and it is likely that some of the staff from the IBD team will be deployed to cover other duties. Regrettably this means that our services will come under severe pressure and we will need to prioritise. In order to mitigate/reduce patient risk, outpatient appointments will be converted to telephone consultations. The infusions unit will continue to operate for patients on biologic treatment. There have been a number of queries about what people should do with their IBD medication. The current advice is that these medications should be continued at the prescribed dose because if the drugs are stopped, there is a risk of an IBD flare, which may increase the risk of complications if you subsequently contract COVID-19.  These medicines also take time (in some cases up to six months) to leave the body. Any patients who develop symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to self-isolate and contact us on 01276586359 between 0900-1600 or outside of these hours, should seek advice via NHS 111. It is of paramount importance that people minimise their risk of contracting COVID-10 through practising hand-washing, social distancing, etc as per NHS guidance https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. Crohn's and Colitis UK maintain up-to-date advice that is available at https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-advice#immunosuppressive-b We welcome queries from patients having a flare, those with suspected COVID-19 taking immunosuppressants (azathioprine, mercaptopurine, steroids, methotrexate, infliximab, inflectra, adalimumab, imraldi, tofacitanib, ustikinumab, vedolizumab) and those that have recently started taking such medications who would need to contact the service anyway to discuss bloods tests/dosing. Regrettably, we need to ask patients not to contact the service at all for administrative issues such as changing appointment times (please contact outpatient bookings), enquiries about investigation results (the team will notify you when they can), prescription requests (please contact your local GP). I would be grateful if your members could work with us through this difficult time and use the helpline appropriately. We are not sure how the next few weeks and months will unfold but would like to reassure all our IBD patients that the service will remain open and available and we will resume normal service as soon as possible. If there are any recurrent questions/concerns from patients, please feel free to pass them on. Hopefully once things have improved I can come along to one of your patient support meetings and meet with those I do not know.

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