In June 1990 a survey of members of the endoscopy section of the British Society of Gastroenterology showed that 47% of respondents were offering some form of open access gastroscopy (OAG). Only 10% offered true (non-censored) OAG. The survey was repeated in June 1994. The overall provision of OAG had risen to 74%, most of whom were offering true OAG. Censored OAG is still widely practised and characterised by referral letters to a consultant in contrast with the use of referral forms (p < 0.001). Referral forms are being increasingly used and are an effective way of capturing important data such as the patients' symptoms (100%), previous treatment (87%), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or aspirin use (78%), suspected diagnosis (74%), and other medical conditions (72%). Forms were used to establish clinical responsibility with the general practitioner in 64% of units. Standardised referral and reporting forms were used by 27% of respondents. A perceived inability to cope with the expected workload was still the most commonly cited reason for not being able to offer OAG. Although 20% of units with a single handed endoscopist were able to offer OAG, this compared with 68% of units with two or more endoscopists (p < 0.001). Only three units indicated that an OAG service had had to be withdrawn, but a further 12 consultants (nine units) were now offering an age restricted service because of excessive workload. Two thirds of the respondents not offering OAG were hoping to do so in the near future. True OAG has increased from 10% to 41% in four years.
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