New research released by Crohn’s & Colitis UK shows that the number of people living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) has been ‘underestimated for years’, with rates still growing.
The study highlights that over half a million people in the country are living with IBD, including 1 in 67 people in their 70s. This figure is nearly double that of the 300,000 previously estimated, raising concerns about the capacity of the health service to provide the specialist care required.
Experts believe that the rising number of cases has yet to reach its peak.
“It is a lifelong condition so it’s highly likely that the prevalence will continue to increase as the population ages,” said Dr Laila Tata, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and lead researcher for the study. “The associated complications, burdens on individuals, capabilities of the healthcare system and other societal impacts of this all require serious consideration.”
“Lifetime costs for the NHS for treating these conditions are comparable to heart disease and cancer,” noted Sarah Sleet, CEO at Crohn’s & Colitis UK and Chair of IBD UK. “They can have a profound impact on a person’s life and patients need expert care from doctors, specialist nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and psychologists.
“It is crucial that the NHS recognises the scale of the growing numbers with Crohn’s and Colitis and does more to prevent lives being blighted for decades by these debilitating illnesses.”
The research was carried out by scientists at the University of Nottingham and funded by Crohn’s & Colitis UK and Coeliac UK.