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The Influence of COVID-19 on Gastroenterology Services in the UK during 2020

Updated on: 19 Apr 2021   First published on 26 Mar 2021

Authors:  Dr Andrew Douds   Dr Rupert Ransford   Dr Bernard Brett 

The BSG Clinical Services and Standards Committee commissioned Covid surveys over the last year in May, September and November 2020 to understand the impact of the pandemic on GI services including wellbeing. A further survey to assess the effects of the recent surge is planned for the near future.

Key Messages

  1. The overall data indicates that units throughout the four nations had managed to successfully restart endoscopy and outpatient services following the initial shutdown despite the ongoing pandemic up to November 2020.
  2. The adverse impact on wellbeing is clear.
  3. Colleagues have found the ongoing guidance from the BSG very helpful during the pandemic.


Data Highlights

  1. Two week waits, urgent and routine endoscopies were successfully restarted following the initial lockdown in 95%, 90%, and 70% of cases respectively in the latest survey.
  2. There has been a steady increase in the number of units undertaking remote clinics and having the facility to undertake video and hot face to face clinics in 90%, 37% and 40% of cases in the latest survey.
  3. 90% of units who are undertaking clinics are able to see 2 week wait, urgent and routine patients
  4. 24% of at risk BSG members have still not been given a ‘clean space’ as defined by BSG guidance
  5. There is access to all GI radiological investigations apart from 12% still without access to CT Colonography in the latest survey
  6. 23% of colleagues in the latest survey have had little or no support from their hospital
  7. 80% of members continue to find the BSG Covid guidance and communications useful or very useful


View full data


Top tips to aid service recovery in the wake of the pandemic

At the CSSC meeting on 25th November 2020 with regional and four nation representatives it was very humbling to receive reports of how colleagues have adapted and responded to the pandemic.

The following are examples of areas of good/ innovative practice from the regions/ 4 nations;

  • increased use of remote consultations and enhanced specialist triage
  • use of Edinburgh dysphagia score to triage patients with dysphagia for upper GI endoscopy
  • utilisation of retired colleagues to return to work to carry out outpatient clinics
  • use of an IBD app to optimise patient care
  • utilisation of cold sites/ private sector sites to perform endoscopy
  • implementation of subcutaneous biologics to avoid patients attending hospital
  • investment in endoscopy facilities to improve ventilation
  • introduction of the cytosponge for Barretts
  • introduction of virtual gut clubs and teaching webinars

If you have further examples of good practice in the wake of the pandemic that you would like to share with the BSG membership please email s.cort@BSG.co.uk.

We would like to acknowledge the BSG CSSC regional representatives who helped supply data for the survey and examples of good practice.

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