A new procedure is being using at St George's to treat acid reflux.

The NHS Trust in Tooting is the first to use the endoscopic treatment. Tony Garbutt, 70, was the first person to be treated using a fully comprehensive endoscopic and surgical acid reflux service.

Acid reflux, otherwise know as heartburn affects approximately 20 percent of people. Medication is usually successful, however, it did not work for Mr Garbutt, who took medication daily for two decades. He was transferred to St George's when this new procedure, called Stretta, became available.

Mr Garbutt said: “My symptoms were getting so bad that I was having real difficulty in breathing. I couldn’t have invasive surgery that was previously available, so this new procedure really was life-changing for me. I’m so thankful to the team at St George’s, everything went smoothly and I’m back to work and living symptom free.”

Stretta works by an endoscope being inserted down the oesophagus to strengthen the muscles. It has the advantage of avoiding the need for surgical incisions and can be done without general anaesthesia.

Mr Marcus Reddy and Mr Omar Khan, Consultant Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons, have developed the acid reflux service at St George’s over the last four years.

The service now includes fundoplication, major abdominal surgery, which is effective but avoided when possible in favour of less invasive procedures including Linx – which involves the insertion of a magnetic barrier ring – or Stretta.

Mr Reddy, who led Tony’s procedure, said: “I’m delighted to have introduced Stretta at St George’s. It’s much better for our patients – like Tony – to avoid invasive surgery, and they can go home on the same day.

“Although it’s not suitable for everyone, those who are able to have the procedure are those who have the most severe symptoms and will see a huge difference.”

Mr Khan said: “St George's already attracts local and national referrals but the addition of Stretta, along with our existing Linx programme means we are now the only NHS hospital in the UK to offer a fully comprehensive endoscopic and surgical anti-reflux service for our patients.

“This reinforces our position as national leaders and innovators in benign upper gastrointestinal surgery.”