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Failings in NHS dermatology services

25th May 2015

A report by the King’s Fund, an independent charity working to improve health care in England, has revealed major failings in NHS dermatology services. It found evidence of a number of worrying problems, including staff shortages, inadequate training, variations in the quality of diagnosis and treatment, and significant disparities in access to specialist care.

The report’s authors, policy analysts Nigel Edwards and Candace Imison, claimed that, despite its importance, dermatology is a “poorly understood” area that receives “little attention” compared with other medical specialities.

They made a series of recommendations to help ensure that NHS dermatology services are able to meet the current and future needs of patients requiring care for skin conditions. These largely centre on enhancing the quality of dermatology knowledge in primary care by assisting GPs in upskilling their dermatology knowledge and improving commissioning through adopting a quality and value based approach to awarding contracts.

Medical advances mean that dermatologists can now treat many more skin conditions, but new diagnostic methods and treatments mean that NHS costs are increasing all the time. Additionally, the UK population is growing larger and living longer, which is putting extra strain on dermatology services. Coping with this rising demand is a growing problem for the NHS, with many patients waiting longer than ever before for treatment.

Many patients are turning towards private healthcare providers to ensure that they are able to access the diagnostic tests and treatments they require without a GP referral. Private healthcare providers offer fast, convenient and timely appointments with experienced dermatologists who have more time to look into their patients’ needs. Patients can choose the clinic they visit for their appointments as well as the consultant with whom they will develop a close working relationship.

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