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Formerly: St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

New service aims to speed up treatment for suspected skin cancer patients

A new Teledermatology pilot scheme to support patients with urgent suspected cancer across Southport and Formby is being trialled by Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The new Teledermatology service will see patients with potential skin lesions attend their GP surgery who will arrange for high quality photographs to be taken of their skin using a ‘dermatoscope’.

The photographs will then be securely sent to the clinical team at Ormskirk Hospital’s Dermatology Department who will perform a rapid assessment of the image and provide timely feedback to both patients and their GPs.

This feedback will either reassure the patient the lesion is benign with no further hospital appointment needed, refer them to community dermatology services for routine/non urgent treatment, invite them for a direct biopsy/removal of the skin lesion or to have a face-to-face consultation to discuss treatment options.

It is a scheme that has been successful in many areas of the country and supports the NHS long-term plan in increasing Teledermatology services nationally.

Dr Maria Konstantopoulou, Consultant Dermatologist at the Trust, said: “A key advantage of this service will be the reduction of unnecessary hospital visits for some patients who can be discharged quickly to reduce their concerns, while at the same time providing more capacity to treat those patients at higher risk of skin cancer to ensure they are seen and treated more quickly.’’

She added: “The Teledermatology service will be a complementary service in circumstances where it better serves the interests of the patient and offers better use of resources.

“It will not be a substitute for face-to-face consultations where required and if certain criteria is met, the patients can also be seen face-to-face from the first steps if this is what they wish for.

“This has been an excellent example of people coming together to support patients and I am very thankful to everyone involved for their dedication, professionalism, and continuous hard work.’’