Explore professional views of changes to gastroenterology service organisation and delivery and barriers and facilitators impacting on change. The work was undertaken as part of an evaluation in endoscopy service provision catalysed by the Modernising Endoscopy Services Programme of the Modernisation Agency.
Focus groups followed by analysis and group-working activities identifying key themes.
English and Welsh secondary care gastroenterology units.
20 professionals working in gastroenterology in England and Wales. Medical, surgical and nursing specialists including endoscopy nurses. Opportunistic sampling to include senior people in leadership and management roles who were directly involved in service modernisation, excluding those involved in the Modernisation Endoscopy Services Programme.
Four 1.5 h focus groups took place in 2007. Summative and thematic analyses captured essential aspects of text and achieved consensus on key themes. 4 themes were revealed: ‘loss of personal autonomy and erosion of professionalism’, ‘lack of senior management understanding’, ‘barriers and facilitators to change’ and ‘differences between English and Welsh units’. Themes indicated that low staff morale, lack of funding and senior management support were barriers to effective change. Limitations to the study include the disproportionately low number of focus group attendees from English units and the time delay in reporting these findings.
Despite ambitions to implement change, ineffective management support continued to hamper modernisation of service organisation and delivery. While the National Health Service Modernisation Agency Modernising Endoscopy Services Programme acted as a catalyst for change, affecting the way staff work, communicate and think, it was not effective in heralding change itself. However, gastroenterologists were keen to consider the potential for change and future service modernisation. The methodological framework of innovative qualitative enquiry offers comprehensive and rigorous enhancement of quantitative studies, including randomised trials, when a mixed methods approach is needed.
Examine the opinions of gastroenterologists and endoscopy nurses regarding the effects of change on service organisation and delivery.
Establish views regarding the impact of change on professional practice and self-identity.
Describe barriers and facilitators to change in gastroenterological endoscopy services and across units in England and Wales to explore differences.
GI consultants, surgeons and endoscopy nurses described barriers to change and service modernisation resulting largely from lack-lustre senior management support, inadequate funding and low staff morale.
The Modernising Endoscopy Services Programme raised the profile of change but was not effective in catalysing change itself. Nevertheless, participants saw real potential in overcoming barriers to change in order to promote future service modernisation.
The methodological framework of innovative qualitative enquiry used in this study offers the opportunity for comprehensive and rigorous enhancement of quantitative studies, including randomised trials, when a mixed methods approach is needed.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study took place in 2007 but the findings offer a unique historical perspective on professional views at that time.
This was a time when further efforts to promote modernisation of endoscopy services in England, through quality monitoring and accreditation of units was starting.
The number of people participating in focus groups was small; however, the qualitative study was looking for depth rather than breadth of data disclosure.
Participants covered a wide range of medical, surgical and nursing professions working in gastroenterology, and there is no reason to believe their views are not reliable and applicable to the wider gastroenterology professional population.