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Capsule camera trial in Norfolk and Waveney

Norfolk and Waveney part of a national pilot to trial new capsule cameras which patients will be able to swallow, rather than have a colonoscopy.

Normally,  patients need to attend hospital for an endoscopy where a tube containing a camera is inserted into their body. The new miniature camera capsules, which are no bigger than a pill, will allow patients to be checked in a non-invasive way, allowing them to go back home, away from the hospital, while the test is in progress.

The imaging technology, known as a Colon Capsule Endoscopy (CCE), is a new innovation.. The patient swallows the capsule which has two tiny wireless cameras inside that take two high quality pictures every second of the lining of the bowel to detect any sign of disease. The images are beamed to a recorder that the patient wears and, once the images are downloaded and reviewed, a report is generated.

While initially only a relatively small number of people will be suitable for the trial, it is hoped that this may lead to camera capsules being used more widely across the NHS as, for some symptoms, it is an alternative to a colonoscopy.

Maggie Tween is Norfolk and Waveney Cancer Programme Manager with the NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG & North EOE Cancer Alliance: “ As we come out of lockdown and the disruption of the pandemic, the NHS istrialling new innovations like the capsule endoscopy to help hospitals to manage the demand on their services. That’s why we’re now trialling these ingenious capsule cameras in Norfolk and Waveney to allow more people to undergo investigations quickly and safely. This latest innovation will ensure people can get the checks they need and conveniently – the technology might be tiny, but these cameras will make a big difference for patients.”

Dr Rawya Badreldin, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Endoscopy Clinical Lead at the James Paget, who are trialling the technology, said; “We are very excited to be trialling this innovative technology to test and develop its use in the NHS. Cancer diagnosis and treatment is a priority as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and CCE will help support the restoration and expansion of endoscopy services during this time.

“At the James Paget, the implementation of this service is a collaboration between Colorectal surgery and the Endoscopy Unit supported by the Research department, and it’s thanks to the dedication and focus of the team, made up of doctors, specialist nurses, nurse endoscopists, senior nurses, managers, administrators and our project manager, supported by our local Clinical Commissioning Group and the national team, that has made this happen.”

James Paget is one of the 42 trusts in England taking part in the colon capsule endoscopy evaluation project, and were the first location to start the service in Norfolk and Waveney, with the first patients being fitted with the recording device and swallowing the capsule on Wednesday, 30 June. The service is due to be rolled out to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals later this month. The pilot will run for 12 months from June 2021.

Quicker access to treatment and more effective ways to treat and diagnose are key priorities for the NHS and it was heartening to read that NHS teams across the country made up to 10,000 chemo deliveries to patients’ doorsteps during the first wave of the virus, introduced COVID-secure surgery hubs and fast-tracked stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, reducing the number of hospital visits that potentially vulnerable cancer patients need to make.

New ways of testing patients for cancer are also on the horizon and teams across Norfolk and Waveney are working hard to implement this. From a patient perspective it means that some patients could avoid having a colonoscopy – which is a definite positive. There is also potential for initiatives like this to support improved diagnostic capacity across the three trusts as we move towards more seamless system working.



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