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UK’s first nurse-led outpatient service for faecal incontinence

Glasgow Royal Infirmary has become the UK’s first hospital to offer an outpatient, nurse-led service for faecal incontinence.

Life-changing treatment is now available to patients without the need for admission to hospital.

Bowel incontinence affects up to 1 in 10 adults in the UK with around 1-2% reporting severe symptoms. Incontinence can be a disabling condition which often remains hidden. People find it embarrassing to discuss and may believe that no successful treatments are available.

Until now the surgical treatment of incontinence often meant coming in for treatment under general anaesthesia. The GRI now carries out tests under local anaesthetic on an outpatient basis. This is delivered by a team of specially trained nurses and allied healthcare professionals.

The service is for patients with faecal incontinence who have previously been treated through a range of medical and surgical measures without success.

Patients meeting set criteria have a Sacral Nerve Stimulator (SNS) implanted in the lower back. The device is like a pacemaker. It sends electrical signals to the bladder and bowel, helping to restore normal function.

Graham MacKay, consultant colorectal surgeon, said: “Incontinence affects a large number of people. We’re dedicated to helping our patients manage, or eradicate, the symptoms without the need to stay in hospital.

“Where appropriate, we are now fitting patients with an SNS in an outpatient setting. Sacral Nerve Stimulation is a highly successful treatment. It effectively alleviates symptoms of bowel incontinence, and often eliminates them completely.

“Being able to deliver this service on an outpatient basis has lead to an increase in patient satisfaction. It reduces the inconvenience of hospital admission.

“Our team of allied health professionals are specifically trained in the assessment and management of incontinence. They provide an approachable face for patients who may be reluctant to discuss these health needs.

“This way of working not only frees up consultant time to focus on patients with the highest degree of medical need. It means we are building on the existing skills of our nurses and allied health professionals.”