A new campaign calling for an increase in the number of specialist nurses for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been launched.
The Irish Society for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (ISCC) has launched the #DoubleUp campaign, which is calling for the number of IBD specialist nurses to be doubled from the its current 14 to at least 28.
This would bring Ireland in line with international best practice.
IBD refers to the conditions Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There is no known cause or cure and some 40,000 Irish people, including hundreds of children, are affected. Most are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30.
The conditions have similar symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss. Left uncontrolled, symptoms may flare up, causing severe abdominal pain and frequent visits to the bathroom. If parts of the colon become too inflamed, patients may need surgery and a life-long colostomy bag.
According to the ISCC, around 1,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in Ireland every year, yet 45% of hospitals have no specialist IBD nurses.
The society is calling on the Government to urgently improve specialist nursing support for everyone living with IBD in Ireland. It is also calling on members of the public to sign its petition calling for Ireland to #DoubleUp on its number of IBD nurses.
The launch of the campaign coincides with World IBD Day (May 19). The petition will be delivered to the Department of Health and it can be signed here
*Pictured is Mary Forry, a specialist nurse in IBD at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, along with Joseph and Colin Whyte