Gastroenterology is a medical specialty that deals with patients suffering from digestive and liver disorders. We treat the following conditions in our Trust although the list is not exhaustive:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome and functional gut disorders
- Liver disease, eg cirrhosis, fatty liver, alcohol related liver disease.
- Reflux and dyspepsia
- Barretts oesophagus
- Biliary and pancreatic disorders
- Gastrointestinal cancers, eg oesophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon.
- Coeliac disease
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Bile acid diarrhoea
- Gastrointestinal consequences of pelvic radiation
Our patients can present with a variety of symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, passing blood, vomiting blood, jaundice, weight loss, heartburn, anaemia. Patients can be treated either as outpatients or inpatients.
Our liver service has a Fibroscan which can detect early signs of cirrhosis. Our medical day case unit provides an outpatient service for infusions of specialist drugs, drainage of fluid from the abdomen, transfusion of iron or blood, breath tests.
We work closely with a multidisciplinary team of specialist gastrointestinal surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, palliative care physicians, specialist nurses, nurse endoscopists, pharmacists and dietitians.
We are proud of our culture of research, quality improvement and service development, with the emphasis of the patient being at the centre of what we do. Many of our Consultants are involved in national and regional societies and committees; and participate in setting national quality standards.
Our service has received several awards such as a British Society of Gastroenterology Certificate of Recognition for the gastroenterology hub in 2019; and the Northern Ireland Healthcare Award for best Inflammatory Bowel Disease team (specialist nurse and pharmacist) in 2018.
To access the IBD Flare Card click here.
Endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your gut is examined using an instrument called an endoscope. Our endoscopy services include the following:
- Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (OGD)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Spyglass electrohydraulic lithotripsy of bile duct stones
- Endoscopic mucosal resection and full thickness resection for early or precancerous lesions
- HALO radiofrequency ablation
- Double balloon enteroscopy
For more information visit our Endoscopy service page.
- Capsule endoscopy
- Stenting of the oesophagus, stomach, bile duct, colon
- Endotherapy of the pancreas
- PEG tubes
Where are we based?
We are based on three sites in our Trust, the Ulster Hospital, Lagan Valley Hospital and Downe Hospital. Outpatient services like clinics and endoscopy are provided in all three sites. Inpatient care is mainly provided in the Ulster Hospital while there are some inpatient beds in Lagan Valley Hospital. The inpatient gastroenterology wards in the Ulster Hospital are 6B and half of 6A.
Accessing the service
Referral by GPs
For most patients, this is the usual way to access the service. GPs can refer patients to our service mainly via the electronic referral system. GPs grade the referrals either as red flag, urgent or routine. All referrals are triaged by Consultants. Based on the symptoms described in the referral letter, patients can be triaged straight to endoscopy or to a clinic. GPs can also request telephone advice by calling one of the Consultant numbers.
Referral from other specialists
Patients can be referred to our service from non gastroenterology practitioners. Inpatient referrals are via an internal electronic system called eDams or can be by phone call or letter. Outpatient referrals are normally by letter. All referrals are triaged by Consultants. Based on the symptoms described in the referral letter, patients can be triaged straight to endoscopy or to a clinic.
Presentation via the Emergency Department
Those with severe symptoms may present to our Emergency Department either by ambulance, self referral or GP referral. If they are admitted, they could be transferred to the gastroenterology ward or be seen as a gastroenterology consult by a member of our team. Patients can be referred from our emergency department as outpatients to our gastroenterology hub or clinic or straight to endoscopy.
Existing users of the service
If you have any questions about your condition, you can contact your Consultant directly or you can speak to your GP and he/she can contact your Consultant on your behalf if required. If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you can contact your IBD nurse or our specialist pharmacist. If you have cancer of your oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver or bile duct, you can contact our Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Nurse Specialist.
Previous users of the service
If you have been a previous patient of our service and have been discharged, your GP can decide if it would be appropriate for you to come back to the service. He/she can refer you back to us.