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“There is no cost to the Trust...its really beneficial”– on the clinical endoscopist training programme

Sue Priestley is the Clinical Director for Gastroenterology at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which has put trainees through Health Education England’s (HEE) clinical endoscopist training programme over the last three years.

Sue is also the JAG lead and has previously led endoscopy training within the Trust.

HEE’s 30 week programme has been designed to teach NMC Adult Nurses and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered healthcare professionals to perform safe diagnostic procedures in either upper gastrointestinal (UGI) endoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.

We spoke to Sue about the training programme and its impact at St Helens and Knowsley.

“Having more clinical endoscopists allows us to have greater flexibility within the department which is great given the demands on the service. We currently have 16 clinical endoscopists but not all have been through the HEE programme.”

“Historically we ran in house training, it was a lengthy process, sometimes taking years. The training was not focused, and it didn’t allow for trainees to have the protected study time they needed to support the practical skills.”

“With the HEE programme, trainees are provided with structure, focus and dedicated training lists with no cost to the trust – from our point of view it’s beneficial and relatively cost neutral.”

“Our most recent trainees who have benefitted from the programme, are Specialist Nurses who traditionally would not have provided endoscopy as part of their roles. However the income generated by their endoscopy activity, has part funded the expansion in the number of these Specialist Nurse roles. The ability to scope provides the trust with a larger pool of endoscopists who can respond to the increasing demand and for the Specialist Nurses, it is another string to their bow. This results in variety within their work schedules, leading to increased job satisfaction and in turn helps with recruitment and retention. For our patients, clinical endoscopists in many cases provide continuity of care, due with their wider skills and talents and they provide a fantastic service for our patients.”

“Locally, it’s been part of our workforce planning strategy for the gastroenterology service to develop our specialist nurse workforce, as from a Trust perspective it is often difficult to appoint medical endoscopists. With workload going up year on year, we knew we needed a greater depth in our workforce. We have used this programme to accelerate our planning. We’ve found with the wider pool of endoscopists we have, the more flexible with our workforce we can be.”

“What's great about this programme is that the background of the individual is irrelevant – one of our endoscopists for instance is a radiographer. We’ve also trained an IBD Specialist Nurse, a Liver Specialist Nurse, an Upper GI Cancer Nurse and a Gastroenterology Advanced Nurse Practitioner. Ahead of the HEE selection process we run our own internal recruitment process, advertising our Specialist Nurses would need to undertake endoscopy training within the job description.”

“The challenge is ensuring you have someone with the right personality to undertake endoscopy entering onto the training programme and that’s really important in the initial recruitment process.”

“Every trainee is trained to a high standard, and no matter their background each is valued within the team. With these additional clinical endoscopists on the ground, our consultants or more senior Nurse Endoscopists are freed up for more of the colonoscopy and therapeutic work.”

“My one piece of advice to other Trusts thinking of getting involved is to embrace the opportunity but select wisely.”

If you need any advice or support relating to this contact HEE: diagnosticsprogramme@hee.nhs.uk

Or find out more about the programme on our website: www.hee.nhs.uk/endoscopy