Back to all news

How collaboration can lead to great change to the landscape in endoscopy research, ultimately putting patients first
5 November 2020

Back in May, the Royal College of Physicians announced the winners of its Excellence in Patient Care Awards for 2020. We wanted to share the approach the team took to win the research award for their ground-breaking work in endoscopy.

Research led by Professor Colin Rees, with the involvement of Newcastle University, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Region Endoscopy Group, conveyed how a collaborative approach to research can lead to transformative results in the world of gastrointestinal endoscopy.

The group achieved this by delivering workshops and patient panels to involve patients and public as genuine partners in developing, prioritising and improving research, and addressing questions that matter to patients. Furthermore, they built upon success to gain resources to support long-term sustainable infrastructure. 

The aims of the research were to:

  • Change endoscopy culture
  • Train and support endoscopy teams to become researchers
  • Maximise opportunities provided by quality assured endoscopy departments to recruit patients to studies
  • Move the way research was developed from the traditional model of clinician-prioritised research to patient-centred research
  • Change the landscape such that endoscopy research was published consistently in high-impact journals thus impacting upon practice
  • Bring industry research, traditionally delivered overseas, into the UK
  • Bring resources to a specialty which historically had very limited grant and infrastructure funding for research


So how was this achieved?

The collaboration achieved their aims by using quality assured UK endoscopy services and the relative uniformity of NHS care to develop and deliver research through endoscopy. In addition, a partnership was developed with the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) to maximise the opportunities of research within a screening programme, and the group worked closely with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) gastroenterology clinical research network to gain resources to support clinical research delivery. The research allowed a culture where endoscopy teams thought like researchers and where a research-ready, trained and motivated workforce was encouraged to be developed.

The group demonstrated that endoscopy is an ideal opportunity to recruit patients into research studies and conveyed how attainable results are with a motivated workforce. They secured grants to fund their endoscopy research.

Rather than focusing on international research, the group focused on how to demonstrate to the industry that the UK is the place to conduct its endoscopy research. This was achieved by testing products and demonstrating benefit or ‘failing fast’.

Ultimately, the collaboration put patients at the centre of the research. They focused on delivering research that mattered and directly affected patients to deliver and improve outcomes.


Looking forward
The collaborative research has enabled important conversations which focus on UK endoscopy units – at speed and scale, with research to ensure a wider approach. This model has been extended to multiple sites throughout the UK. The results are clear:

  • 12,000 patients have been recruited to multiple studies. 
  • Funding (£2.25 million) for long-term infrastructure has been secured through COLO-SPEED and COLO-COHORT directly recruiting 20,000 patients over the next 5 years.
  • £10 million of additional grant funding has been secured to deliver specific studies. 

As a result of the influence of this work, multicentre studies are now delivered using a streamlined approach including study development, peer review, collaborative grant applications and innovative patient and public involvement. The collaboration has led to delivery of the world’s largest interventional endoscopy trials addressing multiple priorities including; pathology detection and recognition, patient experience of endoscopy and identifying risk factors for colorectal pathology. 

The UK’s standing for delivery of high-quality endoscopy research now makes it the first choice for the endoscopy industry.  

Further information about the RCP Excellence in Patient Care Awards for 2020 can be found on the RCP websiteTo read JAG publications and for information about our research, please see the JAG website.

Please read carefully and take any action requested - this message will not be shown the next time you log in