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Ilfracombe Woman Runs into Parliament

Ilfracombe Woman Runs into Parliament


On Wednesday 20th July, Caroline Bramwell of Ilfracombe, who has a permanent ileostomy, took part in a first-of-its-kind relay to Parliament to launch a new ‘Calls to Action' statement, where she met with local MP Selaine Saxby. The statement developed by people with stomas sets out the improvements needed to ensure everyone with a stoma has access to optimal care so that they can live their lives to the full - whether that's returning to sport, going on holiday, going to the cinema, taking their kids to the park, DIY, or going to a restaurant.

Running all four legs of the 6km relay Caroline said, "I know first hand the challenges of living with a stoma and am a huge advocate for people to not feel afraid of stoma surgery and living with a ‘bag for life'. It is so important that people have access to high quality preoperative and postoperative care and that communities and employers are aware and educated on how to support people with a stoma."

Coloplast UK and Ireland joined forces with the UK's three largest stoma charities to co-host this event. Together with Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association (for whom Caroline manages the PR & Communications), Urostomy Association and Colostomy UK. The relay started at a London hospital 6 kilometres away from Parliament, where the participants finished; a symbolic display of the activities that people with a stoma can do when they receive high quality care and support.

Using the Calls to Action statement as a ‘baton', Caroline and the other participants followed a scenic route along the River Thames before passing the baton to reception host, Giles Watling MP, directly outside of Parliament. They were then invited into Parliament to kick-off a reception and celebrate their efforts to carry this important message from ‘patients' to policymakers. The reception sought to educate Parliamentarians about the steps they can take to support everyone living with a stoma across the UK.

Tracey Virgin-Elliston, Lead Nurse Specialist in Stoma Care at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust who handed the baton to the first relay participants said: "I'm so pleased to be able to start this amazing event. Myself and our brilliant team dedicate every day to making sure that people with a stoma receive the best possible care and support when they need it most. It will be amazing to hand over the baton to the relay participants, who are driven by the very same purpose. We're certainly proud to show our support for this brilliant effort to improve the lives of the UK's stoma community."

The stomas in Parliament event has been initiated and funded by Coloplast UK and Ireland.

Further info and the Call to Action can be found at



Notes to editors

Caroline is happy to be interviewed.

About the ‘Calls to Action':

Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association, Urostomy Association, Colostomy UK and Coloplast UK and Ireland have been working with patients to develop research articulating the challenges people with a stoma experience in their post-surgery lives, with a particular focus on the impact of leakage. The research uses insight from people with a stoma to develop recommendations that stakeholders including healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, communities and employers, policymakers and manufacturers and suppliers should be looking to implement in order to support people with a stoma across the UK. The research was developed using a modified Delphi panel, which utilised several patient focus groups to create a set of ‘Calls to Action' which will be shared with policymakers on Wednesday 20th July. Among other findings, the research suggests that leakage has a significant impact on daily life and can be the cause of physical and mental health challenges, as well as unique social anxieties, for people with a stoma. It also found that access to peer support and specialist care can be a significant aid in dealing with these complications, though there is a lack of equitable access to these resources. Further information on the event and research can be accessed here  , and by searching #StomasInParliament on social media channels.

About stomas:

A stoma is an artificial opening in the body that is used to discharge waste. The surgery is performed to treat a range of conditions, including bowel and bladder cancer and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, as well as trauma and disability.

· It is estimated that between 165,000 - 205,000 people in the UK live with a stoma, and that 21,000 people have stoma surgery each year.

· While the formation of a stoma is a life-saving procedure for many, it can result in physical and psychological challenges for people in their post-surgery lives.

· Leakage in particular is a major challenge and can be a constant source of worry, in addition to causing painful skin complications, unpleasant odour and isolation, as well as career and relationship challenges.