An accelerated training programme for nurses and other non-medical registered professionals to learn how to carry out endoscopy procedures is to be expanded this year, following a successful pilot.
The programme, launched by workforce planning body Health Education England last year, saw 40 registered health professionals complete their training during the pilot in 2016.
“Our new non-medical endoscopy training programme will help to deliver a workforce with the capacity to meet increasing demand”
Participants have been taught now to deliver either upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy procedures.
The training will now be rolled out more widely across the NHS from this month, following results from an interim evaluation of the scheme.
HEE said demand for gastrointestinal endoscopy in the UK was expected to increase over the next decade due to increased patient expectations, emphasis on early diagnosis and better uptake of screening.
To meet this demand, the health secretary announced in 2015 that HEE would oversee the training of 200 additional staff in endoscopy by 2018.
Gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures that have traditionally been carried out by doctors are increasingly being performed by nurses and other non-medical registered practitioners, highlighted HEE.
It is estimated that up to 20% of activity in endoscopy units is already carried out by nurse endoscopists, but NHS figures predict that in the future around 40% of low risk, high volume endoscopic procedures could potentially be carried out by non-medical practitioners.
Professor Wendy Reid, national director of education and quality at HEE, said: “We know that early diagnosis is vital to improve patient outcomes, and a workforce with the right skills and in the right numbers is essential to ensure this.”
“Our new non-medical endoscopy training programme will help to deliver a workforce with the capacity needed to meet increasing demand, reducing the amount of time patients need to wait for a diagnosis and enabling earlier treatment,” she added.