STRUCTURE: Sick children will be spared unnecessary surgery as a result of a new initiative which will also save the health service money.

Great Ormond Street Hospital is leading Europe in the diagnosis of a severe, life-long disabling gut condition called intestinal pseudo-obstruction.

The London children’s hospital will see all children who seek medical help for what initially appears to be a blocked bowel.

Children often undergo several operations before they are correctly diagnosed but doctors at GOSH hope early referrals will save children the distress of unnecessary surgery which fails to remedy their problem.

Correct early diagnosis could also save the NHS the cost of the failed operations.

Setting up the gastro motility service at GOSH is being backed during the first year with £1.028m from the National Commissioning Group.

The NCG is responsible for advising ministers which specialist services should be commissioned nationally, in a small number of specialist centres, to ensure a high quality of clinical care, equity of access for patients and value for money.

GOSH expects to see up to a dozen children a year with intestinal pseudo-obstruction.

The new service will be run by gastroenterology consultants Keith Lindley, Nikhil Thapar and Osvaldo Borrelli.

Dr Lindley said the team expects to do around 30 assessments a year of which a third will have a pseudo-obstruction.

“Many of these children might undergo as many as four or five unnecessary surgical procedures before they are referred to us, so the fact we are able to intervene and make a diagnosis earlier will benefit many of the children and their families, including a marked reduction in their hospital admissions,” he said.

GOSH chief executive Jane Collins said: “The fact we have secured National Commissioning Group funding to provide this new service is a testament to the exciting and committed work of the gastroenterology team here.

“We have also received lots of support from families in establishing this, for which we are really grateful.”