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National endoscopy services: reflections on the impact of COVID-19
  1. Ian D Penman
  1. Centre for Liver & Digestive Disorders, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ian D Penman, Centre for Liver & Digestive Disorders, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; ian.penman{at}

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The Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on gastrointestinal endoscopy carries out a biennial census of endoscopy services in the UK and these provide informative snapshots of aspects of activity such as capacity, staffing, safety, training and decontamination. The latest census by Ravindran et al, published in FG,1 covers the 2020–2021 period and provides early insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted provision of endoscopy. It is therefore welcome even though the full impact of the pandemic may not become apparent for several years yet. A cross-sectional survey design was used and services were contacted to help ensure near completeness of data returns. Seventy-nine per cent of JAG-registered services responded with good geographical coverage across England but, disappointingly, relatively less involvement in the devolved nations. Forty-five per cent of participating units were from the independent sector and there were approximately equal returns from JAG-accredited and non-accredited units, so the results are sufficiently representative of the state of play.

So, what are the key findings from the 2021 census? First, overall activity was around 80% of prepandemic levels by March 2021. Endoscopic activity was at an all-time high in 2019 and yet, even then, services were under pressure to meet targets.2 It is commendable that units were able to recover to this level of activity within 1 year of the onset of a global pandemic and the upheaval that ensued. Bearing in mind that enhanced vetting and triage by senior clinicians and …

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  • Contributors IDP developed and wrote this article as sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests IDP is associate editor of Frontline Gastroenterology and, as Vice-President Endoscopy of the British Society of Gastroenterology, is a member of the JAG Stakeholder committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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