Patients to benefit from innovative new test

Doctors in the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG areas are now able to refer patients for a new innovative diagnostic test that will help reduce the need for invasive colonoscopies.

Science-labFaecal calprotectin testing helps GPs make the difficult discrimination between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBS affects 10-20 per cent of the population, half of whom will consult their GP with 79,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. IBD occurs much less commonly, being seen three per cent of the time.

As distinguishing IBS from IBD is difficult, as many as 19 out of 20 patients are unnecessarily referred to secondary care, which often includes an invasive colonoscopy.

Using the faecal calprotectin diagnostic test means that patients with IBS are identified and treated appropriately while those patients with IBD will be referred quicker to the expert care needed to diagnose and manage their condition effectively.

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is leading the rollout of the faecal calprotectin test pathway and has already successfully implemented it in seven CCGs and 198 practices with a further nine CCGs fully engaged with implementation plans in place.

Darren Craig, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist, has championed the new patient pathway approach at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  The Trust’s pathology laboratory conducts the faecal calprotectin testing on behalf of GP practices.

He commented: “This new test ensures that patients have a better experience throughout the diagnosis basis by avoiding unnecessary colonoscopies.

“This ensures that patients get the right treatment as well as making sure that NHS resources are used effectively, reducing the length of waiting lists and saving money.”

Dr George Campbell, GP Governing Body member of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG said: “We’re really pleased that faecal calprotectin testing is now available in our locality. Where clinically appropriate this test may mean that some patients with bowel problems will not need to have a colonoscopy, which is an invasive procedure. A negative test will reassure the patient and their GP that they don’t suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).”

Victoria Hilton, Faecal Calprotectin Project Lead at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “It is great news to hear that this project is spreading wider than the Yorkshire and Humber region, enabling better care for patients.”