Patients across the Black Country are set to benefit from faster healthcare as a new skin service launches.
The new service, which is said to be one of the biggest Teledermatology projects in the entire NHS, is aiming to triage patients within a 24-hour period, cut out unnecessary appointments, and streamline access to diagnostics and treatments.
Patients will be able to access expert advice and guidance from specialists via their GPs, who can take pictures of skin conditions and send them to dermatology departments at a patient’s chosen hospital.
The dermatologists can then assess the images and decide what appropriate steps need to be take – whether that be further evaluations or hospital care.
The service will be run by the Black Country Provider Collaborative, which consists of clinicians from:
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
- The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
- Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust
- Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
Consultant dermatologist and clinical lead for the Black Country Provider Collaborative, James Halpern, said: “The new Teledermatology service allows large numbers of referrals to be triaged more quickly and will help us address the backlog. It will allow a single point of access and quicker care, closer to home.
“Instead of waiting for an appointment after seeing your GP, a treatment decision can be made within 24 hours. This will help with scarce clinic capacity. We will be providing training to GPs and they will also be provided with the equipment.
“There will also be a super-user for each trust who can add locums onto the system quickly. We also have a 24-7 support hotline to help us with technology.”
Currently, over 250 GP practices have signed up to the initiative, covering around 1.5 million people across the local area.
Senior responsible officer for the collaborative, Diane Wake, added: “This is one of several impressive initiatives that have been cultivated as a result of the collaboration between the four Trusts and I’m delighted we are now able to offer this service to our patients.
“This is tremendous news for dermatology patients in the Black Country and the wider area who will benefit from improved outcomes as a result of this.”