Constipation causes thousands of hospital admissions at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

Hinchingbrooke Hospital is part of the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital is part of the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: Archant

Constipation caused thousands of hospital admissions at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust last year, figures reveal.

New research has found the public's idea of how to identify the problem differs significantly from that of doctors, meaning many people are missing out on help they need.

New NHS data shows there were 2,240 hospital admissions for constipation at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in 2017-18.

It was the primary reason for admission on 640 occasions, and a secondary diagnosis for 1,600.

In a recent study, researchers at King's College London found almost a third of patients who were clinically constipated did not recognise it.


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It also showed that less than a third of people thought infrequent bowel movements were an important sign of being blocked up, compared to 41 per cent of GPs and around 65 per cent of specialist doctors.

Dr Eirini Dimidi, lead author of the study, said: "Accurately identifying a condition is at the root of good care.

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"Currently prescription medication for constipation fails in nearly 60 per cent of patients and almost half report not being satisfied with their treatment."

She added that the findings showed a need for the way constipation is diagnosed to be refined.

Across England, there were almost 300,000 hospital admissions for constipation in 2017-18.

Of these, 68,000 were a primary diagnosis, and 230,000 were as a secondary diagnosis.

The NHS says constipation has a variety of causes, including diet, not drinking enough fluids, lack of exercise and stress.

It recommends eating more fibre, drinking more but avoiding alcohol, and being more active, as ways of encouraging bowel movement.

An NHS spokesman said: "Day or night, there are plenty of ways the NHS can help for any illness or problem, and our long term plan will make getting help even more convenient.

"Evening and weekend GP appointments are now available across the country, while pharmacists are trained medical professionals and can advise on a range of minor illnesses out of hours, and if you're not sure what service you need, NHS 111 is available by phone and online 24 hours a day."

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