Providing patients with a faster diagnosis when skin cancer is suspected

Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2024 1:22 PM

Providing patients with a faster diagnosis when skin cancer is suspected

A new service that provides patients who have suspected skin cancer with faster diagnosis and treatment has started at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust.

Already established at King’s Mill Hospital with patients benefitting from the shorter waiting times, it will now be extended to Newark Hospital  and is due to begin there on Monday 10  June.

Teledermatology involves an initial appointment, where a series of high-resolution digital photographs are taken by a clinical photographer .

These photographs are then studied by a consultant dermatologist who can assess them remotely and decide whether a patient needs to come into hospital for further investigation and treatment or if they can be given assurance that cancer can be ruled out quicker.

For the patient this eliminates the sometimes longer wait for a first face to face appointment with the dermatologist. Their first appointment for the photographs is far quicker and the remote triage enables dermatologists to review twice as many patients than face-to-face appointments.

Dr Ritu Singla, Consultant Dermatologist Sherwood Forest Hospitals, said:

“The teledermatology service allows us to triage patients referred by their GP  with urgent suspected skin cancer much quicker.

“Reviewing the high-resolution photographs also allows us to reassure patients much quicker when they do not have cancer and patients with a diagnosis of cancer are seen quicker and can start getting their treatment sooner.”

“This new way of working also means we are able to review more patients, sooner which means a faster outcome for the patient”

 Tina,58, from Sutton in Ashfield, who was one of the first patients to use the Teledermatology service had nothing but praise for her experience.

“ I received a phone call from the hospital just three days after my GP  had made the referral and an appointment for a photograph was made that was convenient for me.”

“Everything about the process was fully explained to me and the lady I spoke to was very informative and very caring”

In Tina’s case, the photograph was not conclusive but a speedy appointment with the dermatologist followed resulting in a cryotherapy treatment after which she was ready to be discharged.”

Jane, 70, another patient from Nottinghamshire had an equally smooth experience. Within a week of being referred by her GP to King’s Mill, with an urgent suspected skin cancer, she had an appointment for photographs with the ‘fabulous team’ who were ‘very thorough, taking several photographs with different lenses’.

A week later she had an appointment for a pre-cancerous mole to be removed: by-passing the need for a biopsy completely. From referral to removal taking only 2 -3 weeks.

Having experienced a prolonged wait for referral and treatment on a prior occasion before the teledermatology service was introduced she was particularly impressed with the speed of this new way of working which she described as first class and which ‘made complete sense’.

Patients for whom it is more convenient will now be able to have their photographs and any follow-up procedures done in Newark Hospital.

A wide range of outpatient appointments, operations and procedures are available at Newark Hospital. Patients, no matter where they live, are encouraged to 'Ask for Newark' when speaking to their GP or hospital team to see if they could have their treatment at Newark Hospital.   

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