Innovative system helps cut waiting times on skin cancer diagnosis for Luton patients

It allows patients to get fast and accurate consultations

By Lynn Hughes
Friday, 29th October 2021, 11:37 am
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 11:38 am
The new system helps to diagnose skin cancer
The new system helps to diagnose skin cancer

A new system for diagnosing skin cancer has helped reduce waiting times for Luton patients.

Under the system, people can share pictures of suspect skin problems with their GP, who can then forward them on to consultants for advice.

Tele-dermatology has been hugely successful at reducing waiting-lists for consultations and two-week wait (2WW) skin cancer referrals. Tele-dermatology allows patients to get fast and accurate consultations, where GPs provide specialist assessments of patients online and deliver referrals for those that need them, ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate care at the right time.

Rather than a patient being referred to the hospital to see a dermatologist, GPs are now able to securely store and forward photos from patients, direct to local and/or NCN NHS Consultants for Photo Advice & Guidance. GPs are also able to take photos with the secure Consultant Connect App and share them with a consultant to seek advice on the next best step forward. Figures have shown that between July 2021 and September 2021, 70% of cases where Advice & Guidance was sought, have resulted in the case being managed by primary care.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (ICS) has partnered with Consultant Connect’s National Consultant Network (NCN) to increase the availability of NHS Consultants to help to reduce patient waiting lists across a number of specialties.

GPs can access responsive and specialist advice, allowing local consultants who were previously answering Advice and Guidance (A&G) calls to focus on patients needing elective care. The NCN are now answering 74% of all elective A&G requests across BLMK.

Tele-dermatology is one example of how NCN specialist A&G can help to reduce patient waiting lists and help patients get the care that they need, whilst avoiding unnecessary hospital referrals.

Dr. Saleh Ahmed, GP and Clinical Lead, said: “Consultant Connect is a fantastic service, which is helping to reduce patient waiting lists. The service allows medical professionals from different healthcare settings to discuss a patient’s care and make a joint decision, while avoiding unnecessary A&E attendances and hospital referrals.”

The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (BLMK ICS) has been chosen as one of 13 areas nationally to receive a share of £160m, to come up with innovative ways to increase the number of planned operations they deliver.

The NCN draws on the expertise of NHS consultants across 50 trusts nationally to deliver on Advice and Guidance (A&G) requests, support GPs and reduce backlogs in waiting-lists. This releases local consultants’ time to see the patients they need to help.