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Maintaining high standards and offering new procedures in endoscopy

Posted: 17 December 2019

Picture of a group of nurses

- 96% of patients said they would recommend the service to family and friends (April 2018 to March 2019). Some 557 feedback questionnaires received for Bowel Screening Programme and 1720 for Bowel Scope Screening

- Training centre for Joint Advisory Group (JAG) endoscopy basic skill courses

- Maintained JAG Accreditation since 2007

The endoscopy department at WHHT offers patients a gold standard in services and care.

The 140 strong team of staff at Hemel Hempstead and Watford work tirelessly to ensure they maintain a patient-centred and workforce-focused approach.

They deliver a wide range of procedures, many of which are not usually provided by a district general hospital.

The department earnt JAG accreditation in 2007 and has worked hard since then to continue to meet the required standards to keep it. The recognition involves a five yearly audit meeting 19 standards, within each a further additional eight. It has the Royal College of Physicians stamp and is the ‘Joint Advisory Group on GI Endoscopy’ seal of approval.

Their achievements were noted in the feedback following the last site JAG Team inspection in February 2018:

- “We congratulate the team on the holistic, respectful way in which they manage patients with special needs throughout the care pathway.”

- “The units at Watford and Hemel Hempstead offer a high-quality service to their patient population with exemplary leadership at all levels and a governance structure that is inclusive of all staff and thus ensures continued service review and development, demonstrated in many initiatives.”

- “There is a pride in the service offered and strong evidence that this is a service appreciated by patients.”

Endoscopy Lead Nurse Emma Purkis said:

“I am very proud of the whole Endoscopy Team. Everyone works very hard to ensure that all our patients receive the best quality of care and this is reflected in our patient feedback. There is not one person in the team that is more important than another, we are like cogs in a wheel and we all have to work together to ensure the process for the patient from start to finish is seamless.

“We are all very competitive and this helps drive the West Herts Endoscopy Team, we continually audit everything we do and use the data to improve our practice.”

Bowel Cancer Screening

The Bowel Cancer Screening service has been live since 2008 and was extended in 2010 to include a larger age group.

The Bowel Scope Screening service was introduced in March 2015 and involves a one off investigation for those aged 55 to identify and remove polyps in the bowel to prevent colorectal cancer.

In addition, the age of 60 -74 years a test kit is sent out every two years to detect trace amounts of blood in the stool. If the test kit is abnormal the individual is seen in clinic by a Specialist nurse and referred on for further investigations. The aim of this is to detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, while it is more treatable.

Results show our endoscopists exceed national expectations on key performance indicators and patient feedback confirms the provision of a high-quality service.

Telephone Assessment Service
The Gastroenterology service redesigned the two week wait pathway for colorectal referrals from GPs and introduced a Telephone Assessment service in line with the ‘straight to test’ national initiative.

‘Straight to test’ is the delivery of an appropriate diagnostic service without the requirement for the patient to attend a first out-patient clinic hospital appointment. GPs decide whether the patient’s symptoms warrant further investigation and also if they are appropriate for a STT pathway. A specialist nurse then contacts the patient and using a detailed telephone proforma, reviews the patient’s presenting condition and symptoms including relevant past medical history and current medication. If considered suitable then the most appropriate diagnostic test is booked. This process is important to ensure the appropriateness of investigation and to assess the fitness of patients.

This new way of working streamlines the pathway by which two week wait colorectal referrals are managed and alleviates significant pressures placed on surgical clinics. It also allows colorectal surgeons time to focus on patients with a definitive cancer diagnosis and work towards delivering 31 and 62-day targets.

Training Centre
This year, in conjunction with St Marks Hospital, the department hosted 11 successful JAG Basic Skills Training courses in both Colonoscopy and Gastroscopy. The feedback below is taken from online statements from JAG Endoscopy Training System (JETS)

- “A fabulous course that was a memorable learning experience. The IT was excellent, and the learning environment created made everyone feel at ease. “

- “This has been an amazing course. It has helped my level of understanding above what I expected. All tips have been helpful. Trainers were all approachable, patient and highly skilled in the art of colonoscopy as well as in training. The administrative side was so easy and caused minimal stress with booking, communication and parking. Thank you for your hard work

- Well organised and catered. Facilitators were excellent teachers. Good knowledge and teaching methods.”


Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call 07900 228031.
  2. WeWest Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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