National Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Quality Improvement Programme

Doctor reading patient notes.

Giving patients greater confidence in endoscopy test results

The Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme aims to give patients greater confidence in the diagnosis of illnesses regardless of whether they are tested at a large or small hospital, either public or private.

It endeavours to strengthen patient safety efforts in local hospitals and enhance patient care with accurate and complete endoscopy diagnoses and reports.

Launched in 2011, it has the following objectives:

  • Improve patient care by minimising diagnostic errors in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • Develop a standardised national quality improvement system for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • Enable individual endoscopy units to review their performance against national targets
  • Identify good practice and areas for improvement and share findings with other participating units
  • Improve communication within and between participating institutions

A clinician led Quality Improvement Programme in GI Endoscopy was developed under the remit of the Conjoint Board in Ireland of the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons in conjunction with the Quality Improvement Directorate of the HSE. The programmed is managed by RCPI. 

Download the 6th National Data Report - 2020

This is the sixth annual report produced by the the National GI Endoscopy QI Programme reporting on quality indicators in endoscopy.

Previous National Data Reports:

"Endoscopy is a central element in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) disease. The provision of a high quality, timely and accurate service with an associated quality patient experience is a key goal for all. Patients have a right to expect that they have appropriate access to the service and that the service provided is of the highest possible standard."

Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI

What is Gastrointestinal Endoscopy?

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that involves an examination of the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy examines the oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). The viewing tool, called an endoscope, is passed through the mouth.

A colonoscopy examines the inner lining of the large intestine (rectum and colon). This is performed by passing a small flexible tube through the rectum.


Doctor with patient

Why was this programme established?

The Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme was developed by the Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI in 2011.

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, like many diagnostic procedures, involves decision making under conditions of uncertainty and a certain degree of error is inevitable.

Endoscopy and colonoscopy can be performed by specially trained nurse endoscopists, surgeons or physicians, which is why RCPI and RCSI are jointly leading this programme.

The Conjoint Board’s aim was to systematically produce robust evidence to ensure that endoscopic procedures in Ireland meet the highest international standards. It also wanted to address the lack of national standards or benchmarks for auditing Gastrointestinal Endoscopy services.

This programme was previously known as the National Quality Assurance Programme in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

Download Guidelines V6

National GI Endoscopy Quality Improvement Guidelines V6

Doctors reviewing notes.

How the Programme works

Participating endoscopy units have agreed to implement practical quality improvement measures, as outlined in the Guidelines for the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme.

The units who have gone live are recording their performance on an online quality information system, which is currently being rolled out to endoscopy units across Ireland.

The Conjoint Board has defined Key Quality Data that will be used to assess the performance of an endoscopy unit. Key quality areas include average medication dosages,  sedative reversal medications usage and polyp detection rates. This information will be recorded in the online quality information system.

When the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme is fully implemented, endoscopy units will be able to run their own quality improvement reports. Using our online quality information system, they will be able to review their performance regularly and compare it to the aggregate national performance.

Guidelines for Endoscopy Units

The guidelines were developed by a Working Group of endoscopist physicians, surgeons and a nurse, who were appointed by the Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI.

They outline quality improvement activities that should be carried out in endoscopy units based on international best evidence.

The guidelines have been circulated to all participating public and private endoscopy units.

"GI endoscopy is fundamental to the management of upper and lower gastrointestinal disease. It has diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative roles. All endoscopy procedures need to strike a balance between benefit and harm."

Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI

Doctor working on computer.

Is your hospital using the National Quality Assurance Intelligence System?

An essential component of the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme is an online quality information system that was built to store, analyse and report on endoscopy units’ performance. It was developed by the Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI and HSE Health Intelligence Ireland.

Known as NQAIS (National Quality Assurance Intelligence System), it functions as a central repository for quality improvement data.

NQAIS is currently being rolled out to all participating endoscopy units and allows us to generate national reports on the key quality areas in diagnostic endoscopy in Ireland.  

We will produce an overall national report showing the trends in the key quality areas. Endoscopy units will be able to monitor, review and improve the quality of their work in the context of national norms as well as share best practice with other participants.

participating hospitals
Bantry General Hospital Beacon Hospital Beaumont Hospital
Blackrock Clinic Bon Secours Hospital Cork Bon Secours Hospital Dublin
Bon Secours Hospital Galway Bon Secours Hospital Limerick Bon Secours Hospital Tralee
Cavan and Monaghan Hospital Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown Cork University Hospital
Ennis Hospital Galway Clinic Hermitage Medical Clinic
Louth County Hospital, Dundalk Letterkenny University Hospital Mallow General Hospital
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Mater Private Hospital Cork Mater Private Hospital Dublin
Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore
Mercy University Hospital, Cork Naas General Hospital Nenagh Hospital
Our Lady's Hospital, Navan Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda Portiuncula University Hospital
Roscommon County Hospital St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown Sligo General Hospital
South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital St. James Hospital St. John's Hospital Limerick
St. Luke's General Hospital South Tipperary General Hospital St. Michael's Hospital, Dun Laoghaire
St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin Tallaght University Hospital UPMC Whitfield Hospital
University Hospital Galway University Hospital Kerry University Hospital Limerick
University Hospital Waterford Wexford General Hospital

Working with the health service

The Gastrointestinal Endoscopy National Quality Improvement Programme is led by the Conjoint Board of RCPI and RCSI.

It has received wide support and is governed by a Steering Committee with representation from:

  • HSE Quality Improvement Division
  • Private Hospitals Association 
  • HSE Office of the Chief Information Officer
  • HSE Acute Hospitals Directorate
  • Department of Health
  • Roycal College of Surgeons in Ireland 
  • Clinical Endoscopist
  • National Lead for Endoscopy 
  • National Office of Clinical Audit 
  • Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) – observer
Group of doctors having discussion.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes, please contact:

Conor Canavan

National GI Endoscopy Quality Improvement Programme Manager

Tel: 01 863 9732

Caitríona McGrath

Department Manager, Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes

Tel: 01 8639 658

Caitríona is the Department Manager for the Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes in:

  • GI Endoscopy
  • Radiology
  • Histopathology