In a postal survey of 450 members of the Endoscopy Section of the British Society of Gastroenterology carried out during 1990, 47% of respondants stated that they were offering some form of open access endoscopy. Virtually all of these were offering open access gastroscopy, but one in three were also performing open access flexible sigmoidoscopy. Those units that offered open access endoscopy had significantly more endoscopists sharing the workload, including a greater number of clinical assistants. Only 10% of those who replied, however, were offering 'true' open access endoscopy, the remainder used some form of 'censoring'. There were also important differences in consultants' attitudes to the investigation and management of patients referred with dyspepsia, which may account for the patchy availability of the service. Some 71% of those who did not offer open access endoscopy cited an inability to cope with numbers as their main reason for not doing so. Support for these concerns is gained from the finding that 52% of those that offered the service have had a waiting list exceeding six weeks at some time. Nevertheless, open access endoscopy is becoming more widely available with a large increase in participating units during the past 12 months.
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