With a growing ageing population, and more emphasis on early screening for certain disease and illness than ever before, demand for gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy in the UK is at its highest and continues to rise.
LJMU is now aiming to meet this gap in patient need by supporting the delivery of a course to train up more non-medical registered practitioners to perform the intricate procedure.
Evidence shows that appropriately trained practitioners can perform diagnostic endoscopy safely, with similar outcomes to doctors, therefore easing the pressures on an over-stretched NHS by providing an efficient and cost effective service. Endoscopy examinations are high risk and invasive procedures which can help identify certain conditions like ulcers, inflammation and tumours.
LJMU’s history in working in the field of Bowel Cancer Screening and an outstanding past record in delivering highly effective training programmes led to the approach by Health Education England (HEE) with the endoscopy initiative.
Twenty six health professionals have been selected from across the country to undertake the 6 month course supported by LJMU after a rigorous testing process. They will be trained to the same nationally accepted competency standards as medical practitioners undertaking the same procedures.
The module is a continuing professional development award which will complement health professionals already working in various fields of healthcare and nursing and is part of a national pilot commissioned by Health Education England (HEE), and follows the first phase delivered partly in London.
Susan Barker, senior lecturer in Advanced Practice at LJMU’s School of Nursing said: “The nursing school at LJMU is known for its flexible, responsive, and leading approaches to training. Nurses trained here have continually proven to contribute to the excellent care received by patients and are the best in their field.
“We’ve listened to the sector and the need for more skilled practitioners in this area. We know current training numbers of medical endoscopists are expected to be insufficient to fulfil the projected increase in patient demand. For the past 15 years, non-medical endoscopists have been carrying out more procedures to fulfil the need. This programme not only will develop more trained staff to meet patient need but will contribute to ensuring patient safety.”
Dr Paul O’Toole, consultant Gastroenterologist and Endoscopist at Royal Liverpool University Hospital has worked closely with LJMU to deliver the Bowel Cancer Screening programme and has been fundamental to the development of the Non-Medical Endoscopist Programme. He said: “This pilot programme, developed in conjunction with HEE, is aiming to provide both the endoscopy skills and the under-pinning medical knowledge - and all within a tight 6 month timescale.
“If successful, this pilot will provide the blueprint for the training of non-medical endoscopists in the future. I am particularly excited by the collaborative nature of this project. It is another example of LJMU responding creatively to workforce training demands in the NHS and it is my first experience of working with HEE.”
Terri Hobbs, National Programme Manager for Health Education England, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Liverpool John Moores University on the NME pilot training programme. This is an important new initiative aimed at expanding capacity and developing the workforce to undertake procedures in endoscopy – an important element of improving diagnostic services.”