New Cross Hospital will become the centre for a new specialist type of skin cancer treatment for the Black Country and West Birmingham area with a new £1.3 million facility that will ensure patients are seen quicker and treated closer to home.
The new service, which opened today, is based at the Dermatology department on Ward A30 at New Cross, and will initially treat up to 200 patients a year.
This has come about through the work of the Black Country Provider Collaborative (BCPC), a partnership between neighbouring NHS Trusts of The Royal Wolverhampton (RWT), Walsall Healthcare (WHT), The Dudley Group (DGFT) and Sandwell and West Birmingham.
Using a specialised technique to remove high-risk skin cancers called Mohs Micrographic Surgery, the new facility will ensure patients receive this ‘gold standard’ form of treatment closer to home, resulting in better patient outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
Currently, patients from this region with high-risk non-melanoma skin cancer – mainly basal cell carcinoma – travel to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for their treatment.
This can involve longer waits for treatment and some patients are not able to travel this distance and therefore accept other forms of treatment available locally.
The new facility welcomes adult patients with certain types of skin cancer at high-risk sites on the face or neck. Using Mohs surgery, the cancer is carefully mapped as it is removed. This technique carries a near 100 per cent success rate.
Henry Soulsby, Group Manager – Rheumatology, Dermatology and Sexual Health at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), said: “We’re proud and delighted to open this new service. It means local patients with this type of skin cancer can access timely services within the Black Country.
“This service has come about due to true partnership working between us all for the benefit of our patients, so we’re hugely grateful and thankful for the other Trusts.”
The service will be led by Consultant Dermatologists Dr Aaron Wernham (Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and RWT), Dr Richard Jerrom (Walsall and RWT) and Maria Athanasiadou (DGFT), Consultant Plastic Surgeon (DGFT), Dr James Halpern, Clinical Director for Dermatology at WHT and RWT and Henry Soulsby.
Dr Wernham said: “We’re very excited about this new development. Depending on demand, this service is likely to expand further in subsequent years.”
Diane Wake, Elective Care Lead for the BCPC, said: “The new facility is the result of the collaboration between all four local NHS Trusts.
“This partnership is designed to reduce inequality in health outcomes, ensure equal access to services and experience, and that specialisation and consolidation occur to provide better outcomes and value, and improve resilience by via mutual aid. This new service will ensure patients with skin cancer will get quicker access to the services they need.”
The new facility houses a satellite laboratory and multiple procedure rooms, while an existing recovery room will be upgraded.
The technique can also minimise the amount of normal tissue removed, which can, in some cases, overcome the need for more complex reconstructions. This can help reduce additional morbidity and cost to the healthcare service.
Ex-Goodyear workers are to fund some items of equipment for the new centre through their 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Charity.
The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) national report for Dermatology in March 2021 recommends improving access to Mohs Surgery, and this development helps address this recommendation.