Jan 26, 2021
Dermatology services during the pandemic
An update from BAD President, Dr Tanya Bleiker.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the delivery of all NHS services, including dermatology. It is important that patients are aware that all dermatology departments are working hard to ensure that we continue to provide essential and urgent dermatology care; including, the assessment of suspected skin cancers, the removal of high-risk cancers and urgent dermatology.
If you are suffering from a new problem with your skin, you should still contact your GP, you will still be referred to a dermatologist if needed. This may take the form of a remote consultation; we have produced general advice for dermatology patients on these consultations here.
Dermatology services have been impacted heavily. At the start of the pandemic, departments were required to contact all skin patients on immunosuppressive treatments urgently and provide information on shielding. We have continued to support these extremely clinically vulnerable patients and provide ongoing advice and care.
The current wave of the pandemic has pushed already stressed services to the limit. You may have experienced cancellations or delays to your appointments. I want to explain the reasons for this and acknowledge some of the amazing work being done by my dermatology colleagues up and down the country in the face of the pandemic, as well as my colleagues in the wider NHS. I hope that this will help clarify the current situation for our dermatology patients.
As many of you will know, we are seeing more COVID-19 cases than ever before, resulting in a high rate of hospital admissions. The strain that this puts on the NHS is significant, and as a result, healthcare professionals, including consultant dermatologists, dermatology trainees and nurses have been redeployed to support the work of our colleagues, on COVID wards, intensive therapy units (ITUs), vaccination centres and in other areas. We are also delivering occupational health clinics, helping staff with skin problems caused by long-term wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and constant handwashing.
Like healthcare professionals from all specialties, we are working harder than ever, in very challenging circumstances. I wish to thank my colleagues for all the hard work that they are putting in.
In the midst of this, we are doing everything we can to support our patients, including maintaining key services as outlined above. Your dermatology team and your GP are still there if you need us. However, we appreciate that this is not ‘business as usual’. Additional, resources that you may find helpful include:
- Local pharmacists
- Patient Support Groups
- Online Resources, including our Patient Information Leaflets, NHS Online, and our Patient Hub
Although immunisation in the UK is going well, and hopefully offers a route out of the pandemic, there will be a significant backlog to get on top of, so it will take some time to return to normal services. You can find our COVID-19 vaccine guidance here.
I hope this explanation helps shed light on the impact that the pandemic has had on dermatology services. We’re grateful for the support of patients as we navigate this tricky time.
Dr Tanya Bleiker, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, is a Consultant Dermatologist at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.