From left to right: Jane Snasdell- Endometriosis Specialist Nurse, Edward Morris- Consultant Gynaecologist, Ed Prosser Snelling- Senior Specialist Registrar, Babu Karavadra- Endometriosis Clinical Research Fellow – photo supplied by NNUH
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been accredited by the British Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (BGSE) as a national centre for Endometriosis.
The hospital is one of only three in the region providing a specialised service for patients with endometriosis and the BSGE accreditation cements the position of NNUH as a leading centre in this area of gynaecological care.
The BGSE accreditation builds on the hospital’s recent triumph of being accredited as a specialist centre for advanced ovarian cancer surgery from the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (EGSO).
Endometriosis is a chronic disease where tissue which behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other areas of the body. These cells react to a woman’s menstrual cycle each month and also bleed. As there is no way for this blood to leave the body, the condition causes inflammation, severe pain and the formation of scar tissue. The condition affects around one in ten women in the UK and other symptoms include heavy periods, pelvic pain and chronic fatigue.
To become an accredited centre, a hospital must meet stringent criteria regarding the service it provides to patients. Requirements include a dedicated, consultant-led endometriosis service run within a specialist outpatient clinic and access to a multidisciplinary team including a named colorectal surgeon, urologists, radiologists and pain management specialists. The NNUH team also includes an Endometriosis Specialist Nurse and, as part of the accreditation process, were asked to submit a video of complex gynaecological surgery to remove endometriosis, evidencing exemplar surgical skills and techniques.
Additionally, the department provide follow-up care and monitoring to patients for two years following surgery, collecting data on outcomes for national submission.
The NNUH team see around 600 new patients with endometriosis each year and provide surgical treatments for on average four patients each week. Referrals are made to the Endometriosis team from across the region, covering an area from Lincoln in the north, to Colchester in the south. Women can also search a national database of endometriosis centres and request referrals to a centre of their choosing. Increasingly, NNUH are being selected as the provider of choice by women from across the country.
The department are heavily involved in research to advance treatments for the benefit of endometriosis patients. A world-first research study into the treatment of endometriosis concluded last year at NNUH, the results of which will be published before the end of 2017. Dr Babu Karavadra, Clinical Research Fellow in Endometriosis at NNUH, explains his current research.
“We’re looking at the impact that endometriosis has on the lives of women who suffer from this debilitating condition. If we can better understand symptoms, pathways to diagnosis and the day-to-day impact of the condition on different groups of women, we can develop our understanding of the treatments which work best.“
In addition to leading the way in clinical excellence, the team at NNUH is also building on the hospital’s strong reputation for excellence in training. The next generation of expert endometriosis surgeons are now being trained here in Norwich. Dr Ed Prosser-Snelling is in his final year of post-graduate training, and is honing the keyhole surgery skills required for this challenging condition. He said:
“The team at the Norfolk and Norwich have supported me in learning advanced skills in Gynaecology as well as techniques in Urology and Colorectal surgery and the collaborative learning environment is a real credit to the hospital. Our endometriosis centre is an excellent example of how hospital departments can come together and manage complex disease effectively for the benefit of patients in their care.
Mr Eddie Morris, NNUH Consultant Gynaecologist and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said: “This is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the hard work and dedication of a large multidisciplinary team. Our patients consistently give us great feedback on the services we provide and we’re delighted that women are increasingly seeking referrals to our service based on its national reputation.
“I’d like to pass on my thanks to everyone involved and look forward to building on this achievement, as we expand our services for the future benefit of women suffering from endometriosis.”
Mark Davies, NNUH Chief Executive added: “With their recent international accreditations, our gynaecology teams are truly leading the way in providing the best care for patients. We have highly skilled, dedicated experts at NNUH and I’d like to congratulate them on their successes.”