The British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) welcomes the Cancer Workforce Plan published today by Health Education England and the specific focus and recognition afforded to Gastroenterology (GI) and Endoscopy services within it.

Thanks to constant advances in screening, therapeutic endoscopy, and non-surgical treatments, more people are being diagnosed earlier and are surviving cancer.

GI, Liver & Pancreatic cancers account for almost 30% of all cancers in the UK.  Gastroenterologists, Clinical Endoscopists and other highly skilled endoscopy professionals diagnose more than 80% of those and are involved in the ongoing treatment of up to 50% of patients.

The HEE report broadly sets out the importance of not just trying to increase the number of cancer specialists in various key areas, but, ensuring staff must have the right skill set, embrace new technology and are deployed where they are most needed to have the greatest impact.

BSG members across the both medicine and nursing are working hard to deliver high quality Endoscopy services to detect and treat GI cancers and the Society supports the recommendations set out in the report. While welcoming recognition of the role our members play, with practical proposals that will support improved services for patients it is important to note that this should only be the start of ongoing measures to support workforce development in the speciality for the longer term.

Professor Martin Lombard, President of BSG said: “Diagnosing and treating cancer patients successfully relies on a multi professional and whole system approach.

The report and its recommendations are welcome but there is still much to do.

In order to meet the needs of patients now and in the future, it is essential to develop a coherent, adequately funded and sustainable healthcare workforce.

For Gastroenterology, this includes a welcome focus on improving the recruitment and retention of gastroenterologists, increasing the number of clinical endoscopists and a range of endoscopy support staff.

We must ensure regional variations are addressed and embrace new ways of working and service delivery to ensure our patients receive the best possible care.

We look forward to collaborating with all our partners involved in developing this long-term work in the next phase.

Read the report