Timeframe for referral

Timeframe for referral

Statement 2.2

Patients who are referred with suspected IBD should be seen within four weeks, or more rapidly if clinically necessary.

Why is it important?

People with suspected IBD should be referred for specialist assessment. This should happen using local referral pathways by a GP directly to a defined specialist (consultant gastroenterologist or consultant paediatric gastroenterologist) in an age-appropriate IBD service. This means that a diagnosis can be made without delay and treatment options can be discussed.

Specialist assessment means that a range of investigations can be used to diagnose possible IBD. These include clinical evaluation and a combination of biochemical, endoscopic, radiological and histological investigations.

A delay in assessment and diagnosis can lead to complications and affect quality of life. Some people with suspected IBD, who have severe symptoms, will need an urgent specialist assessment.

People with any of the following symptoms that have been present for at least 6 weeks should be suspected of having IBD:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel habit (such as diarrhoea with or without rectal bleeding).

If someone is experiencing severe symptoms, IBD might be suspected before the symptoms have been present for 6 weeks, and earlier referral may be needed.

Guidance and further information

It took my 7-year-old son over a year to get diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis because the doctors didn’t recognise it. In that time, he became very ill and experienced severe pain almost every night.

Parent of a child diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis