Objectives: To assess the prevalence and potential benefits of attitudes towards nurse endoscopy in the United Kingdom (UK).
Design: Postal questionnaire.
Subjects: All hospitals in the UK with accident and emergency, general medical and general surgical services in October 2000.
Main outcome measures: Number of teaching or district general hospitals employing nurse endoscopists, range of diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic skills and potential benefits to the endoscopy unit and patients.
Results: Seventy-six hospitals employed 102 nurse endoscopists. Forty-four nurse endoscopists performed both oesophago-gastroduodenoscopy (OGD) and flexible sigmoidoscopy with solitary OGD and flexible sigmoidoscopy performed by 17 and 31, respectively. Three performed full colonoscopy while seven could perform all three procedures. Nurse endoscopists were found to provide good patient care in the majority of endoscopy units with no compromise in safety. Lead clinicians were keen to restrict nurse endoscopy to diagnostic OGD and flexible sigmoidoscopy only in the majority of units.
Conclusions: Nurse endoscopy is widely practised in the UK and is not limited to one procedure or solely for diagnostic purposes. Benefits include good patient acceptability, improved care and safety. Most clinicians predict an important but restricted role for nurse endoscopy in contributing to endoscopic services.