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New theatre doubles dermatology capacity

2021-08-23T12:10:26+01:00Monday 23 August 2021|
  • Dr James Halpern

Daily skin cancer and biopsy operations have doubled within the dermatology service at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust following the addition of a new theatre.

The opening of a second dermatology procedure room has also seen the service become the second biggest of its kind in the West Midlands, next to University Hospitals Birmingham.

As the service prepares to work collaboratively with the dermatology department at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust from next April – with Walsall being the lead provider – three new consultants have been appointed.

The new theatre, which has been converted from a dressings room, is situated on Route 107, in main outpatients at Walsall Manor Hospital.

Dr James Halpern, Consultant Dermatologist and Clinical Director, Dermatology at the trust, explained: “We have grown as a service and are seeing much more skin cancer cases that need operations. We were using the first theatre six days a week and needed more operating time, so converted the dressings room.

“We do day-case surgery on skin cancers, including advanced skin procedures such as skin grafts, skin flaps and nail surgery. We also do paediatric (children’s) surgery in these rooms.”

The team now performs around 12 operations per day per theatre, as opposed to 12 per day in one theatre, depending on the complexity of each surgery. Conditions treated are predominantly skin cancer, along with biopsies of rashes.

In his decade at the trust, Dr Halpern has seen the department grow from a single consultant service to one that employs 12 consultants, eight specialist nurses and seven administrative support staff across the two trusts. The new joint service will have a single management and clinical management structure.

“Dermatology at Walsall has grown to become the largest dermatology service in the Black Country,” said Dr Halpern. “We have doubled our capacity for skin cancer surgery with the opening of the second procedure room.

“We manage the vast majority of skin cancers in house at Walsall Manor Hospital, offering care closer to home for patients. This expansion of our surgical day-case unit has allowed us to operate on more patients and operate on them quicker.

“We have recently appointed three additional consultants and this space will allow for further expansion of our surgical service to meet the needs of our patients.”

The three new appointments to the service are Dr Seema Garg, who has an interest in paediatric dermatology, Dr Noha Elshimy, who specialises in lasers and ethnic skin disease and Dr Viktoria Eleftheriadou, who has an interest in vitiligo and research.

With patients now able to be treated more locally, feedback has been extremely positive. “We have consistently had very good patient feedback about our day-case surgery unit,” added Dr Halpern. “Previously, patients had to travel to Sandwell Hospital and we now perform their procedures in their local hospital. It is very clean and modern with the right equipment.”

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