THE ENDOSCOPY unit at St George’s Hospital is set to become a screening centre for bowel cancer after reviews by the Government and a group representing four Royal Colleges described it as an “outstanding” centre for patient care and medical training.

The reviews, which were held in November 2005 by the Department of Health and the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on GI Endoscopy which acts on behalf of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, Radiologists and GPs, praise the centre for being “an exemplary unit deserving of its national and international reputation.”

“The staff are motivated and have an excellent team spirit”, notes the report by JAG and adds that the unit ‘demonstrates a culture of service improvement and clearly puts patients first.’

The unit scored ?straight As? in a separate review of its services by inspectors from the Department of Health who examined the quality and safety of care given to patients.

The strong performance in both reviews means that the unit can become a screening centre for bowel cancer once the colorectal screening programme is launched nationwide later this year.

Welcoming the report, the Trust’s Director of Endoscopy Mr Roger Leicester, said:

“The reviews are glowing and the praise they heap on the unit is testament really to the hard work and dedication of the staff who work there.

“Endoscopy holds the key to the early diagnosis of cancer and is the most accurate and least invasive way of diagnosing a number of different types of the disease.

“Now that we have approval from the Government to become a screening centre for bowel cancer, we are one step closer towards offering earlier diagnosis and treatment for the thousands of people who develop the disease every year.”

The inspectors’ comments were reinforced by Simon Prager, a patient from Streatham, who had a colonoscopy at the unit in September 2005 to investigate a condition called ulcerative colitis.

Simon was referred to the hospital in late August and had the procedure towards the end of September. “From the moment I arrived at the unit,” says Simon, “everything was spotless. The atmosphere was friendly, professional and calm – there were no large queues.

“The nurse who carried out my examination took time to explain what was going to happen in detail and was exceptionally communicative and friendly.

“The experience was immensely reassuring and throughout my visit you could tell every member of staff was thinking about my needs as a patient.?

An endoscopy is an exploratory procedure designed to be minimally invasive which is used to diagnose and treat bowel, lung and stomach cancer.

A device called an endoscope is fed through the mouth or the nose to inspect the lungs or stomach for tumours. The scope contains a fibreoptic cable and camera, which allow the operator of the scope to view the inside of the body without the need for invasive surgery.

Tiny surgical instruments can then be passed down the tube to allow the operator to remove tissue samples or perform delicate operations such as the removal of polyps from the bowel or stones from the bile duct.

Waiting times for an endoscopy have been halved since the unit moved to state-of-the-art accommodation in November 2004.

The maximum wait for a routine endoscopy has fallen from 12 to six weeks, while urgent procedures are now carried out within a fortnight rather than a month.

The average wait for a routine endoscopy in the UK is six months.

The endoscopy unit performs 6000 endoscopy procedures every year and is also a national training centre for endoscopy. Hands-on training is provided for up to 300 doctors and nurses every year while thousands more health professionals are taught off-site with the aid of broadcast technology which has been installed in each of the unit’s four endoscopy rooms.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact Daniel Pople, Communications Manager at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 020 8725 5151 or e-mail