West Suffolk health service shortlisted for national award

Dr Andrew Yager

Dr Andrew Yager

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A recently introduced electronic dermatology service which delivers a quick and accurate diagnosis to people in west Suffolk with skin cancer or other skin condition has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Telehealth Dermatology Service is one of the finalists in the telehealth category of the Health Service Journal’s Value in Healthcare Awards.

This award category recognises the good use of technology in delivering healthcare services.

The service, which is commissioned by the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), enables GPs to take images of a patient’s skin lesion which are then sent to a consultant for a quick and authoritative diagnosis. The patient can often receive the results within a few hours of seeing their GP.

This shortlisting follows recognition in 2014 for the CCG as having the best stage 1 and 2 cancer diagnosis rates in England. In 2015 the CCG area was acknowledged as having the best one-year cancer survival rate in the East of England.

Dr Nick Rayner, a GP in Newmarket, who led on the introduction of this new service for the CCG said: “Before this dermatology service was introduced in November 2014, if a patient attended their GP practice with a skin lesion that obviously wasn’t cancerous, and the GP had doubts about diagnosing the condition, the patient would have been referred to their local hospital. It could sometimes take six weeks for the patient to get an appointment.

“Now the GP will take high-resolution images of the patient’s skin lesion, which are then sent by a secure network to a dermatology specialist for diagnosis. GPs at 24 out of the 25 GP practices in west Suffolk have received training to take accurate images of the lesion. By taking the good quality images the first time around it means patients get quick and accurate results.”

Dr Andrew Yager, a GP in Botesdale and cancer lead for the CCG said: “Local GPs are extremely pleased how the service is working. Not only have we reduced the number of patients we have to send for hospital testing, we’re delivering really quick turnarounds. This means a patient could see their GP in the morning and know by lunchtime whether or not they have a melanoma.

“This service is a making a big difference to the lives of our patients and it is certainly pleasing to be finalists in these national awards. Of course, it would wonderful to win the award. However, the shortlisting itself is a fantastic opportunity to further promote the commitment of the CCG and local GPs to raise awareness of the importance of early cancer diagnosis.”

The winner will be announced in September at a ceremony in London.

Read more about the awards at: https://value.hsj.co.uk/hsj-value-healthcare-awards-shortlist-2015