Prioritising Skin Health in Wales: A New Report
Date: Feb 2016
At the start of February 2016, Skin Care Cymru released a comprehensive report into the state of skin care in Wales.
The report was built by gathering information from each of Wales’s seven Local Health Boards (LHBs, the administrative units that make up the NHS in Wales) to ascertain the prevalence of skin conditions in each area, the presence (or otherwise) of local strategies to improve outcomes for skin condition sufferers, the numbers of dermatology consultants and specialist nurses in each area, the waiting times for skin-related appointments, and the provision of related services such as mental health support and psychodermatology services. The findings from each LHB that responded were then compiled into the final report, which you can read in full here [http://www.skincarecymru.org/wordpress_test/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Prioritising-Skin-Health-in-Wales-2016-eng.pdf].
The report found that there has been a steady increase in the number of dermatology-related referrals – for both new and follow-up dermatology patients – since 2010. Despite this increase, though, the report found most of the LHBs lacking in the provision of pathways of care and other protocols to ensure sufficient care and support for sufferers of skin conditions. For acne, eczema and psoriasis, for example, one of the five responding centres had no care pathway at all and, importantly, there was found to be no consistency between the LHBs when it came to the nature and sources of the protocols in place – as the report states, it found ‘a wide variation across the regions in terms of their service design and makeup’. The report did find, though, that many of the LHBs had been undertaking a number of positive steps to identify health care needs relating to skin care services, including the recruitment of dermatology Patient Panels and the development of Neighbourhood Care Networks.
The report also found that dermatology departments in Wales were understaffed, in terms of both dermatology consultants and specialist consultants. All but one reported having open vacancies for consultant dermatologists, for example; and there was also found to be a low number of GPs with specialist interest in dermatology. This understaffing may be being compacted by a lack of review at the local level that would otherwise help to identify where the workforce needs to be increased or supplemented.
Skin Care Cymru acts as the secretariat for the Cross Party Group on Skin in the Welsh Parliament. The report will thus be used as a basis for recommendations made to the Welsh government, focusing on addressing the issues outlined above, such as the development of standardised frameworks for collecting data on skin conditions that can be used to redirect resources and services as required.
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Next review: 29 February 2021