Background and study aims: Provision of a reasonable colonoscopy service requires approximately 160 procedures per 100000 population per year. The aim of the present study was to document current levels of colonoscopy service, the use of guidelines in surveillance practice and the capacity for expansion in endoscopy units throughout the United Kingdom.
Material and methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to 294 endoscopy units.
Results: Replies were received from 164 units (60 %). Of the units, 49 % have reached the calculated target figure. In units not meeting the target, 22% have only one colonoscopist, and 31% have one colonoscopy session a week. Overall, 50 % of units are working at full capacity. Out of all units, 70 % are unable to expand their service further, because of lack of nursing support in 81%, non-availability of endoscopist in 72 % and lack of physical space in 51%. Guidelines for surveillance colonoscopy were a problem: 51% of units reported that guidelines were available for surveillance of ulcerative colitis, 28 % for Crohn's disease, 59 % for polyp follow-up, and 44 % for follow-up of resected colorectal cancer. The majority of units (>70%) had no protocols for their surveillance practice. Nonetheless, 92% of units performed surveillance colonoscopy for ulcerative colitis, 34% for Crohn's disease, and 76% for resected colorectal cancer.
Conclusions: The colonoscopy service has expanded, but there are constraints on further growth. There is a pressing need for national guidelines on surveillance colonoscopy.