Endoscopy based in general practice is cheaper and has shorter waiting times than
hospital-based care, an evaluation concludes.
A nurse-led flexible sigmoidoscopy clinic reduced the time between referral and procedure from a median of 87 days in secondary care to 35 days.
Including costs of staff, equipment, capital and consumables, the cost of each procedure at the clinic averaged £270 £100 less than hospital care.
There were no missed diagnoses or inappropriate discharges at the clinic, which was funded in part by the NHS Modernisation Agency.
The evaluation of the first 1,000 procedures at the clinic, published online by Colorectal Disease, also found a patient satisfaction rate of 99 per cent.
Study leader Mr Alan Horgan, consultant colorectal surgeon at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, said: 'It is the first study from the UK to demonstrate flexible sigmoidoscopy can be safely performed by a nurse endoscopist for lower gastrointestinal tract symptoms in primary care with adequate support and training.'