Over the last year, health services in Lincolnshire have been working together to design a non-emergency dermatology service that can provide a better experience for patients concerned about their skin. This saw Lincolnshire clinical commissioning groups, primary care and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) take part in an NHS England 100 day challenge.
After two successful pilot projects, GPs can now refer patients with these changes to community dermatology spot clinics. These will be held every two weeks at a GP surgery and a consultant from ULHT will work alongside local clinical colleagues to review all patients.
The first clinic was held at James Street Family Practice in Louth. ULHT Dermatologist Dr Caroline Angit joined Adele Ackroyd, Samantha Mamwell and Sheena Smith from the surgery to review 24 patients during the first two hour clinic.
Dr Angit said: “This is all about working together to see our patients closer to home, rather than them having to come to one of our hospitals. It means we can often see our patients quicker in a location that is much better for them.
“The first clinic has gone really well. The staff at the surgery have been great at welcoming all of the patients, explaining the process and getting them ready so that I can come in, examine their skin and advise on the next course of action.
“Some patients will always be referred to us at the hospital, but we are hoping that by working with GP surgeries in other areas we can see more and more people out in the community.”
Leonard Andrews was among the first patients to see Dr Angit at Louth. He said: “To be honest I would have felt a bit of a fraud going to one of the hospitals as it is just a slight change to a mark on my face. The service was brilliant. I was able to pop in, get the reassurance and advice that I needed and I will now pop back to my GP to get my treatment. Simply fantastic.”
A second clinic has also been launched at Boultham Park Medical Practice in Lincoln.
ULHT Operational Services Manager Suzanne Sheppard has been helping to get the clinics up and running. She said: “Following the success of previous trials we knew that there was a need to set these clinics up for our patients.
“All patients are still seen by a consultant dermatologist, who will look at each area of the skin and will advise patients on what they need to do next. Some might not need any action, others may be asked to keep an eye on the area, while others may be advised to undergo simple procedures such as freezing to remove a mole or mark.
“The feedback we have received already from patients is brilliant and in support of this new service.”
Programme Lead Jade Nottingham from Lincolnshire East CCG has been working with both the Trust and primary care throughout the pilots.
Jade said: “The aim of the clinics is to ensure a rapid diagnosis in the community, which is better for our patients and at the same time helps to reduce hospital waiting times too.”
Plans are in place to expand the service further and the team are still looking for other practices in the Boston and Grantham areas to host a clinic.