Nurse-led endoscopy service helps keep NHS waiting times low

Waiting times for potentially life-saving NHS diagnostic tests are about to receive a boost as a new endoscopy service starts at our Practice Plus Group Hospital Gillingham.

Nurses at Gillingham Surgical Centre endoscopy service
Nurses at Gillingham Surgical Centre

The endoscopy team, under the guidance of newly-appointed endoscopy consultant Dr Mehtan Ahmed, has created a service that not only reduces hospital waiting times but also limits the time that patients need to be in the COVID-secure centre.

Endoscopy lead nurse Christine Bass, from Walderslade, explained: “Previously, the initial consultation was undertaken by a consultant in a face-to-face clinic. However, the centre has invested in telemedicine that enables nurses to carry out the initial consultation remotely, with patients remaining in the comfort of their own homes, and with the support of a friend or relative if they choose. Currently, most patients cannot bring people with them into the centre.

“We have feedback from patients that they like these remote consultations and it also means they do not have to drive, ask a family member to take the time off work or take public transport, which is a consideration for many older people at this time.”

Christine said:

Endoscopies involve putting a camera into the body. It can be uncomfortable and, people can become anxious. We have found that, as people have now seen us or spoken to us during the telemedicine session, they are more relaxed when they meet us in the centre. I think some people also feel more relaxed with a nurse.

“We are also enjoying the new endoscopy service as it gives us more time to interact with patients and it has enabled us to increase our skills.”

Endoscopy lead nurse Christine Bass

The new system allows up to 16 patients to be assessed in clinic in a single day with the capacity to add an additional clinic if needed. Furthermore, the consultants can now spend more time performing procedures, reviewing biopsy results, assessing referrals, and communicating outcomes to GPs.

Dr Ahmed, said:

Endoscopies can be carried out for a wide range of symptoms, some of which need to be investigated more urgently than others. In the context of backlogs that have accumulated during COVID, the significance of expediting and prioritising cases has never been greater.

“We hope that the introduction of this nurse-led service will help to lower endoscopy waiting times, and ensure that our patients have their investigation completed as soon as possible.”

Endoscopy consultant Dr Mehtan Ahmed