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ON003. Inflammatory Bowel Disease Telephone Helplines – An audit of 9 sites across Yorkshire and Humber region, United Kingdom

Y. Houston1, M. Rawle2, D. Patterson2, L. Rook2, 1Yorkshire & Humber IBD Network, Hull Royal Infirmary, Dept of Gastroenterology, Hull, United Kingdom, 2Yorkshire & Humber IBD Network, United Kingdom


The IBD Service Standards for the United Kingdom (IBD Standards Group 2009) states that patients should have ‘rapid access to specialist advice’ and this could be facilitated via telephone helplines. Patients consider telephone helplines as central to an IBD service (Carter et al 2004). The authors report on an audit of Helplines in 9 hospitals across the Yorkshire/Humber region.

The aim of the audit was to quantify Helpline activity: who calls and why, the amount of time spent on related activity as well as associated cost benefits and financial consequences of not having this service.


A proforma was developed to capture the incoming telephone calls, this was pioloted at 4 sites with minor adjustments made prior to the audit. Each participating site recorded their Telephone Helpline activity on a promorma during February 2012. This information was entered on to a central spreadsheet for analysis.


There were a total of 1187 calls (72–289 per site) recorded over the 28 day period (Table 1).

The reason for contact was ascertained for all callers, the majority of contacts were relating to disease management (44%) with 22% of calls relating to medication, 16% were administrative 10% of patients were seeking test results and the remainder (8%) for various reasons.

Follow up: See table 2.

60% of calls lasted <5 minutes, 38% 5–15 minutes, the remainder >30 minutes. 79% of calls needed <15 minutes follow up activity, 2% needed >30 minutes.

UK tariff for ‘non face to face’ consultations is £23.00. Across 9 sites, between 25% and 75% of calls were chargeable, earning £1012–1932 for this period. Three trusts not charging may have lost up to £28,000 per year.

Table 1. Caller: diagnosis/gender
Ulcerative Colitis218243
Indeterminate Colitis2545
Microscopic Colitis114
Table 2. Action taken by IBD Nurse following helpline contact
ActionPercentage of contacts
Disease management/advice18%
Medication information15%
Urgent appointment/Admit10%
Repeat prescription8%
Results discussed7%
New/change of treatment7%
Book tests6%
Refer to other professionals6%


IBD Nurse Helplines are a well-used resource, generating income and achieving cost savings by preventing out patient /GP appointments and ensuring rapid access to expert advice & treatment. Helpline activity represents a significant proportion of IBD nursing time and needs timetabling accordingly with educational support to ensure a high quality service. Those not charging might reconsider as monies earned could be ploughed back into patient care.