Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has been approved as a national endoscopy training centre thanks to its internationally-recognised work in treating early cancers.
The Trust, which is now one of only 20 training centres in the UK, is delighted to have been granted this status by the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on gastrointestinal endoscopy.
It means clinicians from across the country, and overseas, will be able to come to Portsmouth to train in the very latest endoscopy techniques – one of which is only being carried out in the UK at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Professor Pradeep Bhandari, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist, who has been leading the work to become a national training centre for the last 18 months, said: “We have been innovating smart techniques for detection and removal of early cancers. My work on vinegar in the detection of early cancers has attracted international attention and has been adopted by a lot of hospitals around the world.
“Similarly, we have developed clever ways of removing early tumours from the gut with the aid of knife-assisted endoscopic micro-surgery. This attracts national and international referrals to us. A lot of gastroenterologists around the country want to learn these techniques and we have been providing informal training for a long time but now we will be able to run structured training programmes which will lead to wider dissemination of these techniques.”
Professor Bhandari treats five patients a week but says the demand is much greater.
“We have seen a 40 per cent increase year-on-year in the number of patients being referred to us for this procedure,” he said. “Most hospitals would operate on early cancers. But the benefits of using the endoscope to remove early cancers are huge. If a patient has to have traditional surgery to remove early tumours they will be in hospital for around five days and be off work for between six to eight weeks. And if you lose half your stomach, oesophagus, or bowel because you have to have traditional surgery to remove the early tumours, life will not be the same.
“Using the endoscope also has huge benefits for the NHS. Traditional surgery is hugely expensive, but the procedure I carry out is a day case and the patient can go back to work after 24 hours.”
Professor Bhandari has spent the last few years training various colleagues to carry out these procedures, resulting in a comprehensive development of this service at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
“We are now nationally recognised as being a Trust that can offer something unique,” said Professor Bhandari. “Our training centre status will allow us to spread these skills much more widely to benefit patients all across the country.”