Patients needing investigative tests on their bowel (colonoscopy) are being seen up to two weeks earlier thanks to a pilot project in Lincolnshire’s hospitals.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is currently piloting the use of a new way of booking in colonoscopy tests for patients with suspected cancer at Lincoln County Hospital.
This involves the patients being assessed for their need for testing by a specialist over the phone, rather than having to attend hospital for an outpatient appointment before their test is booked.
This reduces the waiting time for a colonoscopy by up to two weeks, and also reduces the stress and inconvenience for patients as they have one less visit to hospital.
Colonoscopies are procedures where the large intestine is examined using an endoscope – a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light source and a video camera at one end. They are often used to help in diagnosis of colon cancer and other bowel conditions.
In the new process, patients who are eligible are contacted by a nurse specialist by telephone within days of being referred by their GP. The specialist will assess them based on symptoms and history and then recommend the best course of action. If it is decided that they need a colonoscopy, that can be booked straight away.
Previously, patients would have had to wait up to two weeks for an appointment with a specialist in hospital to be assessed before any further tests could be booked.
Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Lincoln County Hospital Dr Amit Shukla said: “I am very happy that we have been able to start this pilot for the people of Lincolnshire.
“Patients were losing vital time while waiting for a hospital appointment, as well as being forced to travel a long way to answer a few questions before a diagnostic test could be requested. With this new method, we will save people unnecessary appointments and travel time.”
This new way of working is currently being piloted at Lincoln County Hospital. If it is deemed a success, it could be rolled out for colonoscopy patients across Lincolnshire.