27/03/2024 - Permalink

News from our partners: Faster diagnosis for patients as new service launched

Related topics: Health / Partner organisations

News from our partners The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH)

A new teledermatology service has been launched at the Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) in Telford, helping patients to have a faster diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer. 

The service, run by The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, involves a qualified professional clinical photographer taking a series of digital photographs of a patient’s skin lesion. The photographs are then sent to a dermatologist for remote assessment to review if the patient needs to come into hospital for further treatment.

Medical photographer Ian Roth with patient Jane McEvoy

Medical photographer Ian Roth with patient Jane McEvoy

Patients are referred into the service by their GP, allowing them to have quicker appointments for the photographs to be taken. Remote triage enables dermatologists to review twice as many patients than face-to-face appointments.

There is also a quicker outcome for patients, as they will have their results within two weeks rather than waiting a fortnight to be seen in person at hospital.

Many patients with non-cancerous lesions can be discharged back to the care of their GPs without them needing a clinic appointment.

Jane McEvoy, from Jackfield, near Telford, was one of the first patients to use the new service, after being referred by her GP to have a lesion on her face photographed. Jane said that it was the third lesion that she had had, with the second one on her breast being cancerous.

Jane said:-

“My GP told me that this was a new service, and I would be seen very quickly, which I was. It is a worry when you have had a lesion that was cancerous, and also because it is on my face.

“I wish it had been around the first time I had a lesion; this service is absolutely brilliant. It was so easy and everybody has been so friendly.”

Helen Childs, Clinical Dermatologist Specialist Nurse, said:-

“The teledermatology service is to prioritise those patients referred by their GPs with lesions to have high quality photographs taken quickly.

“There is a virtual review of the photographs and then it is decided whether the patient needs to be seen by a clinician. The turnaround from GP to teledermatology is a matter of days, which is great for our patients.”

The teledermatology team, in partnership with the Integrated Care Board (ICB), carried out a teledermatology pilot project for a year to determine the best model of practice for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

Dr Dimple Jain, Clinical Lead for Dermatology, said:-

“I reviewed the data from the pilot study and the majority of the lesions were benign, which meant that about 30 per cent of patients did not need a face-to-face appointment.

“Not all patients need a two-week face-to-face appointment. We establish whether patients need an urgent or routine appointment, or whether they need to be referred to another service.”

Sara Biffen, Acting Chief Operating Officer, said:-

“This is a- fantastic service, with patients being seen quickly. Patients may not need to go into a hospital setting and it gives them early reassurance. With a faster diagnosis, it also ensures patients are seen in the right place and by the right team.”

The new CDC based in Hollinswood House, Stafford Park, has transformed how services such as MRI scans, CT scans and blood tests are offered to patients.

As well as creating additional capacity and reducing pressure on the acute hospital sites, it means that patients have easier access to diagnostic checks, scans and tests.

So far more than 30,000 patients been seen at the CDC and close to 20,000 blood tests have also been carried since it opened in October 2023.