Welcome to Ipswich Hospital
Our Passion, Your Care
New clinics help dermatology patients
24 May 2017

Waiting times for hundreds of patient appointments at our hospital have been cut from 18 weeks to just two weeks thanks to a new dermatology clinic.

The new dermatology screening clinics are for patients with skin lesions sent to see a hospital specialist by their GP.

Patients have described the clinics as ‘informative and fantastic’ and ‘quick and efficient’.

The new innovative, fast-paced clinics see several patients invited to the department for appointments simultaneously. Each patient appointment is led by a senior dermatology nurse. The consultant dermatologist then visits each appointment room in turn to spend a short amount of time to make a diagnosis and treatment decision.

The consultant can see up to 100 patients in one morning and the team is running up to four of the clinics each month.

Sam Fuller, the hospital’s deputy head of Operations for Surgery, said: “An expert dermatologist will make a decision on the diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient within seconds of seeing a lesion. “These new clinics make the best use of the consultants’ time and ensure the patients are seen much quicker.”

When patients go to see their GP with a skin lesion the GPs refer them to one of the specialist screening clinics. Traditionally, appointments with hospital doctors are 20 minutes long but the screening clinics free up the doctor’s time as other members of the dermatology team help with tasks including handing out and explaining patient information leaflets, and completing the forms and letters which are sent to the GP.

The doctors can then use the additional time to see other dermatology patients (with conditions other than lesions) sooner. The department gets 1,000 referrals every month and waiting times have fallen across the department from an average of 24 week for a first appointment, to 10 weeks for a routine referral, with further improvements expected.

The new screening clinics are based on a clinic model created in South Wales. The team in Ipswich spotted the success and adapted the idea for our hospital.

Sam said: “Both patient and staff feedback about the new clinics has been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t praise the team enough, they’ve all been fantastic. The success of the clinics is all down to the positive way they have been approached by the team and the comprehensive communication with patients. We are very clear in our letters to patients about what kind of clinic they are attending.  As a result our ‘did not attend’ rates are very low and patients arrive knowing what to expect.”

Some extracts of patient feedback:

“It is all run/organised very smoothly, and the nurses and Doctors were friendly and informative. I realise this is a new initiative and I think it is fantastic not to have to wait so long for an initial consultation.”

“Took time to explain - not feeling rushed!”

“Concerns answered, skin checked, information given, quick and efficient review.”

“Very speedy response to initial Doctors referral, just two weeks…very impressive.”

The new screening clinics have replaced tele-dermatology service previously set up for skin lesion patients.