About the Gastroenterology department

The Gastroenterology department at Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the UK’s leading centres of excellence in treating complex diseases affecting the gut and other associated organs (such as the pancreas).  

PLEASE NOTE in the light of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Gastroenterology team has created a handy guidance FAQ document available below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for children, young people and families from the Inflammatory Bowel Disease team (268.48 KB)

Gastroenterology is the care of the digestive system, its organs and those that interact with it, such as the pancreas. Further information about how our digestive system works and how to keep it healthy is available from the team.

The Gastroenterology team at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is one of the leading specialist departments in the UK and sees around 5000 children and young people each year. The team comprises staff from all professional groups: doctors, nurses, scientists, allied health professionals and administrators.

The Gastroenterology department is home to the following national highly specialised service:

  • Assessment of severe intestinal failure for potential gut transplant
  • Early onset inflammatory bowel disease
  • Paediatric intestinal pseudo-obstructive disorders service

In addition, we offer specialised services for:

  •  Acute and chronic severe intestinal failure requiring treatment by:
    • Altering the child’s usual diet, food intake and eating habits
    • Giving liquid feed via artificial feeding device directly into the digestive system (enteral nutrition)
    • The most severe cases may require parenteral nutrition (PN), where nutrition is delivered into the bloodstream rather than the digestive system. We have the largest number of children and young people in the UK relying on PN to grow and develop
  • Motility disorders
    • The digestive system contains nerves and muscles to work together to squeeze what we eat through from mouth to anus. If either the nerves, muscles or both do not work as they should, digestion cannot occur.
  • Immune-mediated digestive disorders
    • The immune system should protect us from infection but can sometimes become mis-programmed, so it attacks the body tissues instead of foreign invaders such as germs. This can stop the digestive system working as it should. This can include conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, auto-immune and allergy conditions of the digestive system
    • The service also provides support to those who have undergone bone marrow transplants and subsequently long-term impacts on the digestive system.
  • Intestinal rehabilitation
    • If parts or all of the digestive system do not work as it should, children and young people will need to make a variety of changes to how they feed so that they can manage their condition as much as possible.

If it is not possible to cure the underlying disease, children and young people with chronic intestinal failure are discharged home on PN treatment with the expectation of survival into adulthood with a good quality of life.

The Gastroenterology team work closely with academic partners the UCL GOS Institute of Child Health (ICH) in the Infection, Inflammation and Rheumatology (IIR) section. Current areas of research with this section include:

  • Prospective clinical trials for new treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Contributing to international studies investigating the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the gastro-intestinal tract, in conditions such as IBD and those who may be taking immunosuppressant medication
  • Leading an international European register for children suffering from Paediatric intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Examining the gastro-intestinal microbiome (good bacteria in the gut) and metabolome; and how it works particularly affecting children and young people who have had stem cell transplants.
  • Trials of glucagon-like peptide treatment (GLP-2) to gain intestinal autonomy/absorption of sufficient food from the gut to stop treatment with parenteral nutrition.

Current research with the Department of Nutrition within Clinical Epidemiology, Nutrition and Biostatistics section at ICH includes:

  • Looking at under-nutrition in sick children in hospital with gastroenterology and other problems. Undernutrition can be a problem in children with a non-digestive disorder as the primary illness.
  • Investigating body composition and growth in sick children.

For further information on research being carried out with ICH, please see their webpages at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/research/infection-immunity-inflammation/infection-inflammation-and-rheumatology and https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/research/population-policy-and-practice-research-and-teaching-department/cenb-clinical-epidemiology

The Gastroenterology team also plays a part in educating clinicians of the future, both from within the UK and further afield, through the Gastroenterology Fellow Programme.