The setting up and running of a cross-county out-of-hours gastrointestinal bleed service: a possible blueprint for the future

Frontline Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul;4(3):227-231. doi: 10.1136/flgastro-2012-100243. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Objective: Acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding (AUGIB) results in 25 000 hospital admissions annually. Patients admitted at weekends with AUGIB have increased mortality, and guidelines advise out-of-hours endoscopy. We present retrospective data from our service involving the interhospital transfer of patients.

Design: We pooled resources of two neighbouring general hospitals, just north of London. Emergency endoscopy is performed at the start of the list followed by elective endoscopy in the endoscopy unit on Saturday and Sunday mornings. From Friday evening to Sunday morning, patients admitted to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital (QEII) are medically stabilised and transferred to Lister Hospital by ambulance.

Results: 240 endoscopies were performed out of hours from December 2007 to March 2011. Of these, 54 patients were transferred: nine had emergency endoscopy at QEII as they were medically unstable; eight of the patients transferred required therapeutic intervention for active bleeding. The mean pre-endoscopy Rockall score of those transferred was 2.5. We examined the records of 51 of the 54 patients transferred. There were three deaths within 30 days after endoscopy not associated with the transfer process. 19 (37%) patients had reduced hospitalisation after having their endoscopy at the weekend.

Conclusions: The introduction of the out-of-hours endoscopy service in our trust has had multiple benefits, including patients consistently receiving timely emergency endoscopy, significantly reduced disruption to emergency operating theatres, and participation of endoscopy nurses ensures a better and safer experience for patients, and better endoscopy decontamination. We suggest our model is safe and feasible for other small units wishing to set up their own out-of-hours endoscopy service to adopt.

Keywords: Endoscopic Procedures; Endoscopy; Gastrointestinal Bleeding.

Publication types

  • Review