If colonic irrigation was available on the NHS, would it be cost effective?
Unfortunately, colonic irrigation is no longer available on the NHS.
Some of my colonic irrigation colleagues, who are ex-Nurses, still remember the colonic clinics in Hospitals back in the 60′s and 70′s. However, they were all dismantled when medicine became more ‘drug-led’, and the ‘pill for every ill’ culture became entrenched in our NHS.
We seem to be having somewhat of a renaissance in colon hydrotherapy at the moment. The medics are beginning to appreciate the therapeutic value of the therapy, particularly when treating bowel dysfunction (especially abdominal pain and bloating) associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation.
I’m a private practitioner and, as such, I have to charge for my time, experience, expertise and the treatment. However, there are a number of people who come to me for help, and I don’t think they should have to pay for the treatment. These are people who, for example, have multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders that affect their bowel movements, people who have cerebal palsy, and spinal surgery patients where the surgery has damaged nerves to the bowel and bladder. These people can manage self-cathetorizing to empty their bladder, but when it comes to emptying the 5.5 ft or so length of bowel, that’s a different story altogether.
Another category are people in chronic pain who have to take a ‘cocktail’ of medication to control their pain levels. Because the pain medication is morphine based, it slows down the bowel and makes them very constipated. These people try different laxatives, enemas and even manual evacuations, but can’t get the poo out. The only way of getting it out is with colon hydrotherapy treatment, but they have to pay. This situation is physically very uncomfortable, not being able to have a bowel movement, creating impaction, excessive gas, bloating and pain. It can be psychologically damaging too as this can take over a person’s life, preventing them from going out of the house, for fear of having an accident, and having to be near a toilet, just in case. They can become very isolated. Usually this category of people are unable to work, and so have to rely on benefits. They don’t have the money to pay for colon hydrotherapy treatment, yet it’s the only thing that gives them relief. That can’t be fair.
We need a debate on how best to manage such categories of patients who have severe bowel dysfunction. Colon hydrotherapy is very safe, very effective, and inexpensive compared to the overall costs of having to manage a dysfunctional bowel on the NHS – ie the costs at the GP practice – Doctor’s wages etc, the Hospital costs – consultants wages, tests, scans, x-rays etc., and the medication!