Gastroenterology

Gastroenterologists are doctors who investigate, diagnose, treat and prevent all gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) and hepatological (liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas) diseases.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Male and female doctors on the ward

Nature of the work

Trained gastroenterologists develop and run endoscopy services for diagnostic, therapeutic and screening endoscopy.

All specialists are competent at upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. Most will be trained in lower GI endoscopy (flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy). Some will have had additional training in hepatobiliary endoscopy (ERCP) or small bowel endoscopy (wireless capsule endoscopy or enteroscopy). Most will participate in acute gastroenterology admissions and manage a broad range of gastrointestinal disease, either in outpatients or following admission.

Gastroenterologists treat conditions such as:

  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • gastrointestinal cancer
  • anaemia – a condition where the haemoglobin the blood (a pigment that carries oxygen) is below normal levels
  • inflammatory bowel disease, eg Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive system), ulcerative colitis (inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the rectum and colon)
  • short bowel syndrome
  • jaundice – a condition where the skin yellows due to an accumulation of bilirubin the blood and tissues
  • management of alcoholic, viral hepatitis (Inflammation of the liver caused by a virus) and autoimmune liver disorders (where the body attacks its own cells)
  • diverticulitis - inflammation of the diverticula (small pouches) in the intestine
  • gastroenteritis
  • hepatitis

Common procedures/interventions

These include:

  • diagnostic and therapeutic upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • small bowel endoscopy
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – an endoscopic technique mainly used to diagnose and treat bile duct and pancreatic duct conditions
  • endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • intestinal and liver biopsy
  • paracentesis (puncture of the wall of a cavity using a hollow needle)
  • insertion of parenteral nutrition line (intravenous feeding lines)
  • planning and aftercare of patients undergoing liver transplant

Sub-specialties

The CCT sub-specialty is:

  • hepatology

Many gastroenterologists develop sub-specialty interests such as:

  • hepatology (diseases of the liver)
  • pancreaticobiliary diseases of the pancreas and biliary system),
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • functional bowel disease
  • tropical diseases
  • gastrointestinal cancer and its prevention
  • endoscopic surveillance
  • upper GI disease (diseases of the oespahagus and stomach)
  • small bowel disease
  • pancreatic disease
  • transplantation
  • medico legal issues in medicine
  • clinical pharmacology
  • inherited cancer syndromes
  • clinical nutrition

Want to learn more?

Find out more about:

  • This section provides useful information about the pay for junior doctors (doctors in training), specialty doctors, consultants and general practitioners.

    Find out more about the current pay scales for doctors, there's more information on the BMA website.

    NHS Employers provides useful advice and guidance on all NHS pay, contracts terms and conditions.

    Medical staff working in private sector hospitals, the armed services or abroad will be paid on different scales.

  • Read about consultant and non-consultant roles in gastroenterology, flexible working and about wider opportunities.

    Consultant roles

    You can apply for consultant roles six months prior to achieving your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). You will receive your CCT at the end of gastroenterology.

    Managerial opportunities for consultants include:

    • clinical lead - lead NHS consultant for the department
    • clinical director - lead NHS consultant for the directorate
    • medical director - lead NHS consultant for the Trust

    Most NHS consultants will be involved with clinical and educational supervision of junior doctors.

    Here are some examples of education and training opportunities:

    • director of medical education - the NHS consultant appointed to the hospital board who is responsible for the postgraduate medical training in a hospital. They work with the postgraduate dean to make sure training meets GMC standards.
    • training programme director - the NHS consultant overseeing the education of the regional cohort of trainee doctors eg foundation training programme director. This role will be working within the HEE local office/deanery
    • associate dean - the NHS consultant responsible for management of the entirety of a training programme. This role will be also be working within the HEE local office/deanery

    SAS doctor roles

    There are also opportunities to work at non-consultant level, for example as a SAS (Specialist and Associate Specialist) doctor. SAS doctors are non-training roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, two of those being in a relevant specialty. Find out more about SAS doctors roles.

    Other non-training grade roles

    These roles include:

    • trust grade
    • clinical fellows

    Less than full time training (LTFT)

    A significant proportion of UK gastroenterology trainees are undergoing training on a less than full time basis (LTFT); arrangements are made between the trainee and their HEE local office.

    Academic pathways

    If you have trained on an academic gastroenterology pathway or are interested in research there are opportunities in academic medicine.

    For those with a particular interest in research, you may wish to consider an academic career in gastroenterology. Whilst not essential, some doctors start their career with an Academic Foundation post. This enables them to develop skills in research and teaching alongside the basic competences in the foundation curriculum.

    Entry into an academic career would usually start with an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) and may progress to a Clinical Lectureship (CL). Alternatively some trainees that begin with an ACF post then continue as an ST trainee on the clinical programme post-ST4.

    Applications for entry into Academic Clinical Fellow posts are coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHRTCC).

    There are also numerous opportunities for trainees to undertake research outside of the ACF/CL route, as part of planned time out of their training programme. Find out more about academic medicine.

    The Clinical Research Network (CRN) actively encourages all doctors to take part in clinical research.

    Other opportunities

    There are currently a number of staff grade posts in clinical gastroenterology or specifically endoscopy. They provide an important role in many gastrointestinal (GI) teams.

    Teaching is an integral part of most posts and there are opportunities to do research.

  • This section provides useful information about the availability of jobs, finding vacancies and where to find out more.

    Job market information

    NHS Digital regularly publish workforce statistics which show the number of full time equivalent consultants and doctors in training for each specialty: NHS Digital workforce statistics

    Competition ratios for medical specialty training places are published on Health Education England's specialty training webpage.  

    On this section we have information for England only. For information regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please click on the links below.

    NHS Scotland medical and dental workforce data

    NHS Wales medical and dental workforce data

    Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety workforce information for Northern Ireland

    Where to look for vacancies

    All trainees apply through the online application system Oriel. You will be able to register for training, view all vacancies, apply, book interviews and assessment centres, and manage offers made to you.

    All jobs will be advertised on the NHS Jobs website.

    The BMJ Careers website also advertises vacancies.

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve