Gastroenterology

Welcome to gastroenterology service. We care for patients with digestive disorders from across London, Essex and the rest of the country. Our team of specialists are here to support you, whether you are visiting us for tests, or coming in for treatment.

We are leading experts in conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver and pancreas - and care for children and adults of all ages and we provide exceptional support for people with digestive disorders. Our patients benefit from the latest diagnostic tests, cutting edge treatments, and first class clinical care. We see people with a wide range of conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers, liver disease and cancer.

The Centre for Digestive Diseases at The Royal London Hospital is dedicated to helping people with gastroenterological conditions (disorders of the digestive system). It’s one of the only specialist centres in the world that cares for people of all ages – this is because many patients with digestive disorders have long term conditions and we want to offer them continuity of care throughout their lives. We also offer a range of high quality services for inpatients and outpatients, in comfortable surroundings across our hospital sites.

At all our hospitals, we adopt a multidisciplinary approach, so that specialists in all areas – for example, gastroenterology, radiology, pathology, oncology and cancer – work together in a co-ordinated way to provide care and support for each patient. We also provide access to support services, including dietitians, to help patients manage their condition.

We care passionately about making people better, and helping our patients to live happy, healthy and independent lives.

We provide gastroenterology services from:

  • Newham University Hospital
  • The Royal London Hospital
  • Whipps Cross University Hospital

Why choose us

Our hospitals offer some of the best clinical outcomes in the UK. Our teams have influenced national policy, helping to formulate the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s guidelines for managing irritable bowel syndrome and alcohol use disorders.

We are a leader in the field of research and our internationally recognised specialists have devised several procedures that are now used widely around the world. These include:

  • Enteral feeding – designed to help people get the nutrition they need via a tube directly into the stomach.
  • The video capsule endoscopy - when swallowed, the capsule takes photos on its journey through the digestive system
  • Therapies for inflammatory bowel disease - several novel therapies are being developed to treat inflammatory bowel disease, including pre-biotic therapies and hypnotherapy.
  • Neurogastroenterology - this is a discipline of gastroenterology, aimed at understanding the neuromuscular control of gastrointestinal function, with particular emphasis on brain-gut interactions. The Neurogastroenterology Group represents a collaboration of experts, both clinicians and scientists, from several disciplines within the Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London, and Barts Health NHS Trust. Our mission is to be a centre of excellence for neurogastroenterology research and patient care.

Our Endoscopy service at Whipps Cross was the first unit in the area to be ‘JAG Accredited’ – this is a seal of approval from the National Endoscopy Committee that inspects units all over the country.

Newham University Hospital is one of the country’s leading centres for digestive disorders, leading the way, with a reputation for excellence.

We also provide the Barts Health Centre for Digestive Diseases, providing specialist care at The Royal London Hospital. This is one of the only centres in the world to provide care for patients with gastroenterological conditions throughout their lives – from small babies through to the elderly.

Our Paediatric Gastroenterology Unit at The Royal London Hospital is one of the largest in the UK, and allows patients diagnosed in childhood to remain at Barts Health into their teens and throughout their adult lives. Patients benefit greatly from this continuity of care. The adult and paediatric units work closely together to provide adolescent services for outpatients, and we have set the standard for good adolescent gastroenterology care in the UK and internationally.

Research excellence

Our Centre for Digestive Diseases works closely with colleagues at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Wingate Institute, to undertake research that will benefit our patients.

Other research portfolio includes:

  • Two year clinical trials into bacteria to combat inflammatory bowel disease (Dr James Lindsay, Consultant Gastroenterologist).
  • Research into the link between the central nervous system and the gut, to enhance patient care.
  • Clinical trials of new drugs for viral liver disease.
  • Clinical trials of new treatments for children with Crohn’s disease, either to improve height or reduce inflammation.
  • Using very small biopsies of inflamed intestine in the lab to test possible new drugs and understand how inflammation occurs.
  • Trials of medicines (eg for reflux).
  • Understanding tropical diseases in the intestine (we have a link with Zambia), which can also affect people in Britain.
  • The genetics of coeliac disease.

All studies have been approved by the East London Research Ethics Committee.

For patients

The digestive system is extremely intricate so problems can be hard to diagnose. We conduct a range of advanced investigations to diagnose conditions as quickly as possible – sometimes even on the first day that the patient comes in.

The digestive system works by passing food down the oesophagus (gullet) into the stomach. The stomach produces acid which helps to digest the food. After being mixed in the stomach, food passes into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). In the duodenum and the rest of the small intestine, food mixes with enzymes (chemicals). The enzymes come from the pancreas and from cells lining the intestine. The enzymes break down (digest) the food, which is then absorbed into the body or excreted.

Your treatment and care

Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a medical procedure that uses a long flexible tube, with a camera and light at the end of it, to examine the inside of the body. The procedure may be used to assess and treat disorders affecting the digestive system, the lungs (bronchoscopy), or the bladder (flexible cystoscopy).

We provide state-of-the-art endoscopy services across the Trust, offering a full range of diagnostic procedures including special investigations of the oesophagus, liver and pancreas and therapeutic procedures for the stomach and intestines. Our consultants perform complex biliary procedures (minimally invasive treatments for blockages or narrowing of the bile ducts). We work with the surgical team to treat gallstone disease. Our team of specialist paediatric gastroenterologists and paediatric anaesthetists at the Centre for Digestive Diseases also provide general anaesthetic and sedation for children undergoing tests and procedures in the endoscopy unit.

We also have clinical nurse specialists, dietitians, pharmacists and a specially trained counsellor on hand to provide support throughout your care.

Emergency procedures are performed on the same day and urgent procedures are carried out within two weeks of referral.

National Bowel Cancer Screening

The screening unit based at Whipps Cross University Hospital was the first unit locally to become a National Bowel Cancer Screening Unit, in recognition of our consistently high standards in patient care and clinical excellence.

We offer a 24 hour on call service for endoscopy emergencies, advanced therapeutic endoscopy, and nurse-led endoscopy for gastroscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy. 

We also use small bowel capsule endoscopy – a cutting-edge technique that allows clinicians to view the previously inaccessible small bowel.

Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology is concerned with managing diseases of the bowels, liver and pancreas. We provide comprehensive, state of the art diagnostic and treatment services for patients with gastroenterological disorders, as well as diseases of the liver and pancreas including complex endoscopic procedures such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and capsule endoscopy (a relatively new procedure where patients swallow a capsule containing a tiny camera that provides pictures of the inaccessible middle part of the bowel).

We provide comprehensive, state of the art diagnostic and treatment services for patients with gastroenterological disorders, as well as diseases of the liver and pancreas.

We maintain strong academic and clinical links with local teaching hospitals, so that our patients are among the first to benefit from new therapies and treatments.

Outpatient clinics

Our outpatient services include a nationally recognised feeding clinic, a dietetic swallow clinic and expert outpatient clinics for children with voice disorders and feeding difficulties. Additionally, we run a weekly videofluorscopy clinic (to assess swallowing) for both inpatients and outpatients.

Adolescent outpatient clinics

We run dedicated clinics for adolescents undergoing the transition from paediatric to adult care. Patients between ages 16-22 who need long term support with their condition are referred to these clinics to receive care from our multidisciplinary team.

We currently run adolescent clinics for hepatology, inflammatory bowel disease, and neurogastroenterology. They are staffed by paediatric gastroenterologists and nurses. as well as adult gastroenterologists and nurses. 

Patient experience

We regularly survey how satisfied patients are with their experience of our services. The results of the surveys are (anonymously) read out to the staff each month. This gives us the opportunity to adjust our practice according to the views of our patients. A recent survey showed that 92 per cent of patients were satisfied with the service provided.

For clinicians

Our hospitals offer some of the best clinical outcomes in the UK. We are leading experts in conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver and pancreas - and care for children and adults of all ages and we provide exceptional support for people with digestive disorders. Our patients benefit from the latest diagnostic tests, cutting edge treatments, and first class clinical care. We see people with a wide range of conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers, liver disease and cancer.

For questions or advice please email our teams. We will respond to you within 24 hours.

Colorectal
Email Mr Shafi Ahmed, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon on shafi.ahmed@bartshealth.nhs.uk

Gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition
Email: bhnt.advice-gastroenterology-Barts@nhs.net

General surgery
Email: bhnt.advice-UpperGIsurgery-Barts@nhs.net

Hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery
Email: bhnt.advice-HPBandPancreaticSurgery-Barts@nhs.net

For out of hours and emergency enquiries please call 020 7377 7000 and ask to bleep the senior registrar.

Clinics and referrals

We provide a number of clinics at Newham University Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital and a wide range of specialist services at The Royal London Hospital.

To refer a patient to the gastroenterology clinic at Newham University Hospital, the gastroenterology clinic or the nurse-led jaundice clinic at Whipps Cross University Hospital or to the clinics provided at The Royal London Hospital (listed below) please use the Choose and Book system.

Clinics available at The Royal London include:

  • Children’s voice disorders and feeding difficulties
  • Dietetic swallow clinic
  • Nutrition clinic –
  • Endoscopy unit
  • Nurse-led functional bowel or faecal incontinence clinics 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 1 - gastroenterology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 2 - gastroenterology
  • Liver - gastroenterology
  • Liver – hepatology
  • Paediatric outreach clinics - an outreach service to children who have been referred to us from surrounding areas.  We hold regular clinics in Epping, Bishop’s Stortford, Lewisham, Whipps Cross, St John’s Chelmsford and Farnborough.
  • Videofluorscopy clinic (to assess swallowing) for inpatients and outpatients.

Routine appointments are booked through a 'partial booking system' in which patients are asked to confirm that they still want an appointment by contacting the Central Appointments Department on 020 7767 3200 six weeks before they are likely to be seen. They can then arrange a suitable date.