Offsetting capacity and workforce pressures within endoscopy services

Cancer survival is the highest it's ever been with thousands more people surviving cancer every year. For patients diagnosed in 2015, one-year survival was 72% - over 11 percentage points higher than in 2000. Despite this progress, one of the biggest actions the NHS can take to improve cancer survival is to diagnose cancer earlier. Patients diagnosed early, at stages 1 and 2, have the best chance of curative treatment and long-term survival.

The Long Term Plan sets a new ambition that, by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half now to three-quarters of cancer patients. Partly by increasing the proportion of cancers diagnosed early.

With the emphasis in the Long Term Plan to increase the proportion of cancers diagnosed to rise from around half now to three-quarters, endoscopy departments across the NHS are going to experience ever-increasing volumes. In addition to a rising demand across the UK, many of the endoscopy facilities within the NHS today are nearing a point of requiring refurbishment, whether partial or complete; in a large hospital, this process can last for more than six months and cost upwards of £1 million. 

To circumnavigate these issues, there is another option available to hospitals. Mobile healthcare facilities, which can be installed on site within a matter of hours and require only a short commissioning period to become operational, can provide additional capacity for Trusts to temporarily increase patient throughput in response to increased demand or offering decant during periods of renovation. These flexible spaces are designed to enable hospitals to increase their physical space and some suppliers also offer clinical support staff and equipment, lessening the strain on internal hospital resources. Once the facility is no longer needed, with contract periods typically spanning anywhere from three weeks to six months to fit the hospital’s requirements, it can simply be removed from the site.

Mobile endoscopy suites have been utilised across the NHS for 15 years now, and are a readily accepted method to supplement capacity on a site or provide a decant service during periods of refurbishment. Mobile endoscopy specialists, such as Vanguard healthcare solutions, have completed over 50,000 procedures to date. 

Recognising the demand on Trusts to increase endoscopy volumes and renovate existing facilities, February 2019 saw the launch of the ‘Endoscopy Dual Procedure Suite’, which Vanguard says will double the capacity of any previous mobile endoscopy, providing the capacity to achieve 48+ JAG points per day. This is a further addition to Vanguard’s existing fleet which includes endoscopy suites for 24+ JAG points per day and endoscope decontamination units which can reprocess 120 flexible endoscopes per day. According to the company, this extension to its portfolio will enable hospitals of all sizes and demand to select suitable flexible infrastructure options to elevate demand or support refurbishment projects. 

The new ‘Endoscopy dual procedure suite’ has been designed in accordance with JAG guidelines and includes:

  •  Two procedure rooms 
  •  Scope reprocessing zone including clean and dirty sides with three pass through AERs
  • Five patient bays
  • Consultation rooml HEPA-filtered environmental air
  • Integrated medical gas
  • Vacuum scavenging system
  • Endoscope drying cabinets
  • Staff toilet and DDA compliant patient toilet
  • Track and trace system.

Through the deployment of flexible infrastructure, Trusts are able to meet targets through maintaining access to services during periods of downtime or meeting the increase in demand during a surge.


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