Enteral Feeds Survey

Closes 3 Oct 2022

Opened 3 Aug 2020


We wish to hear your views on the supply of enteral feeding products

We are reviewing the current arrangements for supply of enteral tube feeds (“PEG/NG feeds”) and, the pumps and the consumables (“plastics”) needed for their administration.

What are enteral feeds?

Patients who are unable to eat orally (by mouth) but have a normally functioning digestive system may be fed “enterally”. This means specialised dietary products known as enteral feeds are fed directly into the stomach using a tube.

Underlying conditions which may lead to enteral tube feeding include neurological disorders affecting swallowing, head and neck cancers and oesophago-gastric diseases.

When a patient receiving enteral tube feeding in hospital is medically stable, they may be considered for discharge back to their own home or residential care. Over 1000 patients in Northern Ireland require home enteral tube feeding.

Enteral feeds are prescribed by GPs and dispensed in community pharmacies (chemists). The equipment to administer the feeds is supplied via the Health and Social Care Trusts using a variety of mechanisms.

Why are we carrying out this survey?

A workshop led by the Department of Health (DoH) concluded that there was potential for improvement to the current arrangements for ordering and supply of these products. However there are complex legislative and policy issues to consider if changes are required. This survey has been initiated by HSCB as commissioner of services, to seek wider opinion on the adequacy of current arrangements in primary care and on discharge from hospital for:

  • supply of enteral feeds (“PEG/NG feeds”),
  • the products, pumps and the consumables (“plastics”), required for their administration
  • specialist support to co-ordinate patient care. 

Your opinion is important and responses will help inform recommendations for development and improvement of services for enteral tube feed patients.

Give Us Your Views


  • Service users/patients
  • Carers
  • Health professionals


  • Provision of health and social care services