Gastroenterology (GP information)
The Gastroenterology department provides an extensive range of services covering all areas of gastroenterology and hepatology, including the following: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hepatology, Nutrition, Investigation of suspected GI cancer, Functional GI Disorders, Dyspesia including Open Access Endoscopy Service. The department works closely with colleagues in General Surgery in order to provide seamless care for patients with gastrointestinal cancer and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). We also have close links with Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for patients requiring tertiary care for Liver Disease.
The endoscopy department is renowned for its efficiency and undertakes over 5,500 procedures per year. Waiting times for any procedure have been amongst the lowest in Eastern England historically and are currently between two and six weeks. We work closely with the GI surgeons and patients who are found to have cancer at endoscopy are referred immediately to the appropriate surgical team, nurse specialist and MDT. In addition, the L&D team is part of the Bowel Cancer Screening service for Bedfordshire which covers all those aged 60 to 75 in our area.
Referrals can be made via E-RS only.
Procedures undertaken in our Unit include the following:
- Diagnostic Upper GI Endoscopy
- Therapeutic Upper GI Endoscopy
- Therapy of GI bleeds
- Banding of varices
- Dilatation of oesophagus or pylorus
- Oesophageal and pyloric stent insertion
- Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) insertion
- Diagnostic Colonoscopy
- Therapeutic Colonoscopy
- Stricture dilatation
- Ablation of vascular lesions
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
The following non-endoscopic services are also provided:
- Oesophageal manometry and pH studies
- Urea breath testing for H pylori
- Hydrogen breath test for bacterial overgrowth or lactase deficiency
We aim to manage all patients as efficiently as possible. Where it is obvious that a patient requires investigation from the referral letter this will be arranged before the patient is seen in clinic. For example:
- Patients with a confirmed significant iron deficiency anaemia may be sent for gastroscopy with duodenal biopsies and colonoscopy directly.
- Patients with suspected inflammatory bowel disease may be brought up for flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy initially.
- Patients with suspected GI cancer with alarm symptoms, may be brought up for the relevant investigation before being seen in out-patients. This ensures that waiting times for investigation are kept to a minimum and diagnoses are made as rapidly as possible.
Stable patients with coeliac disease are referred back to their GP with guidance on what is required in terms of follow-up.
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease are provided with self-management plans that should allow them to manage minor flare-ups in the community, but also have a contact card so they can be seen urgently in clinic if they are having problems.
The self-management plans include advice on disease monitoring and if patients require colonoscopic follow-up they are contacted to arrange this at an appropriate time. The Gastroenterology department has systems in place to ensure that patients requiring endoscopic follow-up (such as those with Barrett’s oesophagus and colonic polyps) are contacted to arrange this in a timely fashion.
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