Select Page

British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Dear Members

I trust this this finds you, family and colleagues well and bearing up in these difficult times. We find ourselves under exceptional circumstances.  I am indebted to members for coming together to support each other. We will need to step forward, share our skills as best and as appropriate as we can and reach out to those professionals who are most stretched.

“…….and there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us”. Dr Daniele Macchine, Bergamo, Italy, 9 March 2020”

I would like to draw your attention to the following-

Guidance for children’s services from NHS E and Advice on Covid 19 prevention and control to best keep yourself and your patients safe,  to be used in conjunction with local policies

  1. New BSPGHAN Endoscopy advice to be read in conjunction with the latest BSG\JAG advice
  2. How to register for free NCP parking
  3. Recommendations to the Regional Homecare Specialists regarding provision Home Parenteral Nutrition services.
  4. Advice is being prepared for us to manage the most vulnerable patient groups and for families of children on hone PN that should be available tomorrow. 
  1. Specialty guides for patient management during the coronavirus pandemic


Whilst demand may be more felt in adult services, given current understanding of the virus, paediatric services have a key role to play. Children’s hospitals, working with District General Hospitals, will need to provide a regional and national response to pressures on the NHS. The elective component of our work may be curtailed, and resources diverted to areas of greater need. However, non-elective patients will continue to need high quality care and we need to ensure that they receive the care that is appropriate. We should seek the best local solutions to continue the proper management of unwell neonates and children while protecting resources for the response to coronavirus.

The following principles should guide how we run our services during the outbreak:

  • Follow Public Health England guidance.
  • Keep children out of the healthcare system, unless essential.
  • Use telemedicine and other non-direct care, when appropriate.
  • Plan for stopping elective procedures and treatments that may consume critical care and ward resources.
  • We should advise patients with specific conditions such as IBD and those on home PN to still make sure that they seek advice in from their speciality nursing /medical teams in the event of fever or typical symptoms of relapse of their condition. 

If you find that parents are not seeking advice, it would be good to know,  and I can ask the  RCPCH and NHS E to help reinforce this message for parents?

As the situation is changing very rapidly, with different resource strains in the adult sector, and events may overtake our advice with paediatric anaesthetists being pulled to work in the adult sector. Any guidance regarding endoscopy should acknowledge the principles above,  e.g. that our patients should continue to receive the best care that is appropriate; that we may need to seek best solutions locally and to divert resources to areas of greater need so that they are used equitably, fairly and effectively.


  1. Advice for Planning Endoscopy Activity during COVID-19: Consensus document prepared by Dr Christine Spray and Dr Babu Vadamalayan on behalf of BSPGHAN with advice also taken from BSG guidance (20/03/2020).


It is clear proactive planning for hospital services is essential over the coming weeks and months.


All Trusts are taking measures to reduce in & out-patient activity to reduce risk of exposure to COVID – 19 for patients and staff, especially from asymptomatic carriers

It is also recognised resources including staff, theatre supplies and PPE are limited and need to be available for patients and staff who require them as a priority

The BSG have documented guidance re endoscopy services in order to address the above concerns:

  • Endoscopy Teams are advised to follow both national guidance for reducing transmission of infection with COVID19 (websites above) but also agree their own local protocols and policies in collaboration with senior management, Infectious Disease or Infection Control teams. There are both general measure that should be followed and specific measures around personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • PPE for endoscopy procedures – advice is that standard infection control measures should be followed except for aerosol generating procedures (AGP) in patients at high risk of or with confirmed COVID19 infection. AGP in this context means upper GI procedures and for patients who fall into this category, enhanced PPE is recommended including FFP3 masks. Endoscopy teams should also consider enhanced PPE for emergency and out-of-hours procedures and also consider arrangements for the most appropriate location to perform these within their hospital. Units are encouraged to ensure staff know how to be fitted for the appropriate size of FFP3 mask and how to put on PPE correctly.
  • Official advice is that enhanced PPE is not currently felt to be necessary for upper endoscopy in patients at low risk or for lower GI procedures. Concerns have been raised that the virus may be faecally transmitted but there is presently insufficient evidence to recommend the use of enhanced PPE measures for lower GI procedures. Stocks of FFP3 masks are also limited and their use needs to be carefully prioritised. This is; however, a rapidly changing situation and teams should check regularly for updates to both local and national guidance

BSPGHAN suggest these principles and guidance are considered for patients considered to require endoscopy by their Consultants.  Requirement for endoscopy should be risk assessed and deferred or delayed if possible.

  • categories are suggested:


  • Need to continue:      
  • Newly presenting acutely unwell patients with likely IBD
  • Unstable known IBD patients who require urgent endoscopic assessment to understand appropriate change in treatment, when all other measures have been assessed as an alternative & failed
  • Seriously unwell children who require endoscopy for diagnosis and therapeutic endoscopy for treatment, including significant acute UGI bleed, acute oesophageal obstruction including food bolus obstruction & stricture & gastrointestinal obstruction needing urgent decompression/stenting
  • Urgent inpatient nutrition support – PEG/NJ tube
  • Upper GI endoscopies for portal hypertension for patients who bled within the last 6 months and still in the eradication process.
  • Defer until further notice      
  • All non-urgent routine symptomatic patients and those for routine planned endoscopic review including planned dilatation for stricture or achalasia & polyp surveillance
  • Known IBD patients planned to undergo routine reassessment
  • Needs discussion                    
  • Patients positive for COVID – 19 to be considered for diagnosis and treatment based on clinical grounds rather than tissue diagnosis after discussion with parents
  • Unwell patients with possible Coeliac disease who do not fit the criteria for non-biopsy diagnosis pathway
  • Newly presenting patients with likely IBD

Important Notes

  • This list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive and is meant to serve as a guide to clinical teams when planning during the current emergency.
  • The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and this advice may change from day-to-day, so clinicians and managers need to check regularly and look for updates and briefings from the relevant Government agencies in the four nations.
  • Teams need to consider resources- both staff and equipment (PPE and endoscopy kit) – when planning and think well ahead as we get closer to the peak of the outbreak.
  • Systems need to be in place to keep records of patients who have been deferred or cancelled so that either alternative arrangements (e.g. clinic follow up, radiological imaging) can be made or rebooking can occur when it is safe to resume normal activities. Local discussions with colleagues in Radiology may also be helpful when considering this.

More general and operational considerations 

  • Restricting numbers of staff in rooms for all procedures –e.g. limit trainees (may be redeployed anyway)
  • Assessing stocks of consumables and devices daily – without panic buying. Keep in touch with suppliers and local representatives regarding the supply chain in the coming weeks
  • Considering alternatives for diagnostic testing – Calprotectin; radiology (already hard-pressed); telephone triage of e.g.  2WW referrals.
  1. Free car parking

NCP are offering NHS staff free parking at over 150 car parks across the UK, in support of efforts at this current time. NHS staff should pre-book online and is valid for bookings and exits until end of April, when they’ll review the situation

The following information has been provided by Susan Gibert, chair of NHMC.  

 Changing ordering (PONs) and clinical validation

If hospitals are planning on planning on changing any of the aspects of their prescribing, please can they liaise with their homecare providers before doing so, this includes:

  • Changing prescription length – the length of prescription validity must be clear on each prescription
  • Changing clinical validation (stopping clinical validation in the case of staff shortages)
  • Changing Purchase Order Numbers (PONs) or not adding PONs to prescriptions due to staff shortages

If hospitals do not inform their homecare provider in advance, there is a risk that prescriptions / documents with queries will be placed in the Document Under Investigation (DUI) files and will not be acted upon. Please instruct your hospitals to check the DUIs carefully.  Homecare providers have agreed to pro-actively manage DUIs to reduce the risk.


It is essential that the process for adding ‘wet’ indelible ink signatures continues as per the current agreed process with the individual homecare providers.

Prescription renewal / repeat prescription / prescription management

Some hospitals have asked homecare providers to increase the notice given for repeat prescription requests.
All hospitals / clinical areas that receive 5 to 6 weeks’ notice for repeat prescription requests will move to 8 weeks.
The prescription due date will not change, and hospitals that do not need advanced notice will need to ‘ignore’ the requests that they do not need.
Please note this measure only relates to prescriptions that are already requested 5 to 6 weeks ahead, no changes are anticipated for other therapies at this stage.
The homecare providers agreed that a consistent approach is essential to maintain patient safety so please encourage your hospitals to comply with the above.
This is a temporary measure that will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and after a return to business as usual (BAU) in due course.

Changing / increasing quantities of medicines supplied

This needs to be managed carefully and there needs to be national oversight of any proposed changes to existing prescribing and / or supply.
Manufacturers of pharma funded schemes are being asked on an individual basis, whether there is sufficient stock in the supply chain to increase stock of medicines in patients’ homes. Only if there is sufficient stock guaranteed for all patients to receive more buffer stock, will homecare providers be permitted to increase delivery quantities and reduce delivery frequency.

Homecare providers and manufacturers are in the information gathering phase. Once there is a clearer picture of stock availability and which patients will benefit from increased buffer stock in their homes, more information will follow.

At the moment clinicians are asked to kindly maintain current prescribing patterns.

HPN prescribing 

Prescriptions for HPN, should include a prescription for fluids and / or multi chamber bags as agreed by the HPN stakeholder group. Please refer to specific guidance from the HPN stakeholder group for further information. It has been confirmed that where multiple prescribers usually sign HPN prescriptions, one signature will be sufficient, as this is the legal requirement. 

Mitigation / Risk Management

Hospitals and patients being cared for in secondary care, may benefit from increased access to homecare medicines services. Any ‘extra’ resource needs to be managed carefully and there needs to be national oversight. If hospitals wish to commence new services, this could be managed in a variety of ways:

Hospitals may contact their chosen / preferred homecare provider directly

Hospitals may contact their regional homecare specialist

It would be helpful to have oversight of which patient cohorts would benefit from accessing homecare services and which services hospitals have asked homecare providers to start providing (OPD services and other secondary care services).  Please could you liaise with your regional homecare specialist and / or your regional pharmacy procurement specialist for more support and local information.

Expanded BSG consensus advice on management of IBD plus guidance on IBD

Guidance on  hepatology patient risk groups

Sue Protheroe
22nd March 2020


Contact Us  l  Privacy Policy  l  Members Login  

© 2021 British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition  l Charity Number 299294 l VAT registration number 323665308