A skin cancer service offered by Clifton Hospital is leading the way in the region – increasing the number of patients who can be seen and reducing appointment cancellations.
The Teledermatology service, running full time at the hospital since 2021, has been a huge success and following a recent visit by the NHS England Cancer Programme, team members have even been asked to present at the Faster Diagnosis Collaboration Event – a major NHS event – in February.
The service involves patients with suspected skin cancer being photographed by the medical photographers, and the images are then reviewed by the lead nurse or doctor within 48 hours. The images need to be of a high enough quality to enable diagnosis, and the trusts medical photography team have worked with clinicians to ensure this.
The process has allowed the department to see double the number of patients they would have seen previously and has stopped routine appointment being cancelled. Set up as a pilot scheme in 2019 by the now-retired Dr Bottomley, the business case was then approved and has been running full time since January 2021.
Clifton Hospital’s Dermatology Lead Nurse Jane Sanderson, who joined Dermatology in 2008 as a newly qualified nurse, is now the first nurse Head of Department at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Jane commended the whole team including the service manager, admin staff, medical photographers, nurses and doctors, who have all been instrumental in ensuring the teledermatology service succeeds.
Despite dermatologist shortages being a national issue, because of Teledermatology, local skin cancer patients are seen within target despite a continued increase on demand each year. Other Trusts in the areas are now setting up their own Teledermatology services to improve their wait times.
Reflecting on the team’s success Jane said “I’m really proud of the department – without teledermatology we simply could not have coped with the increased demand on the dermatology service. There have been some teething problems along the way, but the team have persevered, and it has been a huge triumph.
“We are the only Trust in the North West meeting national targets and all the credit must be given to the whole team who are helping ensure the future of our dermatology service.”
Paul Canning of the Medical Photography team added: “A Medical Photographer runs every clinic and is assisted by either a staff nurse or an HCA. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage and takes even more hard work to keep the clinics going, so we’re very proud of this achievement.”
The Dermatology unit at Clifton Hospital runs a very busy outpatient and day case department offering a wide range of clinics by doctors and nurses.