Navigating the NHS system with inflammatory bowel disease

Navigating the NHS system with inflammatory bowel disease

Navigating the NHS system and understanding the different roles that healthcare specialists play in your care can be overwhelming and confusing.

From getting your diagnosis through to your ongoing treatment and follow-up appointments, you will meet a number of different specialists who manage a different part of your care. These specialists form what is called a ‘multidisciplinary team,’ also referred to as ‘MDT,’ and they work collaboratively to support your care.1

This section provides you with an overview of these specialists and their roles.

Getting diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease

If you have been experiencing symptoms, you will likely have attended some appointments with your GP to begin the process of getting a diagnosis, following which your GP will refer you for more specialist care.

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar to each other as well with other conditions, so you will probably have a series of tests to determine which condition you have.2,3

Learn more about getting diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.

An elderly patient discussing IBD diagnosis with their doctor.

Meet your care team

During and after your diagnosis, you will meet several specialists involved in your care.

Meet each of them below.

Consultant gastroenterologist

You should have a named consultant who leads your care and is responsible for your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) management

Specialist IBD nurse

Also referred to as a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), your specialist IBD nurse will be your main point of contact, offering expert practical and emotional support and coordinating your care

Consultant colorectal surgeon

Sometimes surgery might be the best option and an expert will discuss the benefits and risks with you


A specialist in diagnosis using imaging like x-rays

You will also meet members of a specialised support team that includes

Stoma nurse

Some people will need a type of surgery to create a stoma, which diverts the gut to an opening on the abdomen. If you need a stoma, a specialist nurse will help to support you.


You can ask for referral when you need support from your GP or from your consultant in getting the right nutrition or making changes to your diet


If you see a consultant, there may be a specialist pharmacy service for the IBD team that handles your medicines. You can ask your community pharmacist about your medications.

Find an IBD specialist nurse

Crohn’s & Colitis UK provide a simple search tool to find IBD specialist nurses and other services across the UK.

Getting the most from your appointments with your care team

In this episode of the Gutcast podcast, Dr Aoibhlinn O’Toole, consultant gastroenterologist, and Emma Anderson, IBD nurse specialist, discuss how to get the most from your appointments with your care team.

The pair give practical tips and advice from each of their perspectives including how to prepare for appointments and how to track your symptoms between appointments to discuss with your care team.

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the individuals involved and do not represent those of Janssen. This podcast is intended to be informative and educational and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment. This podcast was funded by Janssen Sciences Ireland UC and participants were paid for their time. If you have any questions, consult your healthcare professional.

Podcast approval code: CP-362953
Date of preparation: August 2023

Supporting someone with IBD

Supporting someone with IBD

© NICE 2015 Quality standard inflammatory bowel disease. Available from All rights reserved. Subject to Notice of rights. NICE guidance is prepared for the National Health Service in England. All NICE guidance is subject to regular review and may be updated or withdrawn. NICE accepts no responsibility for the use of its content in this product/publication.