Our policy on endoscopy capacity

graphic depicting endoscopy capacity

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Whilst cancer survival is at its highest ever level, our health services are under considerable pressure. Increasing cancer incidence, an ageing population and efforts to improve outcomes means that the demand for cancer diagnostics has never been higher.

There were nearly 357,000 new cancer cases in the UK in 2014. This is set to increase so by 2035, there will be over 500,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

Endoscopy services, as well as imaging and pathology, have been delivering more activity over recent years but they are currently struggling to meet demand – leading to a diagnostic bottleneck and thousands of patients waiting in limbo. Ensuring diagnostic services can cope with future demand is essential if we are to improve outcomes for patients through early diagnosis.

Endoscopy plays a major role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as many other conditions. Endoscopic tests such as gastroscopy and colonoscopy are used to investigate potential cancer symptoms.

Cancer Research UK commissioned research to understand the pressures facing endoscopy services in England and to identify solutions to address these issues. The work, conducted by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham and the Strategy Unit at NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, involved interviews and modelling of future demand.

Scoping the Future: an evaluation of endoscopy capacity across the NHS in England recommends increased investment in diagnostics services and addressing workforce shortages.

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