WQ92422 (e) Tabled on 12/04/2024

What discussions has the Cabinet Secretary had with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board on access to dermatology consultants?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care | Answered on 18/04/2024

Dermatology has been identified as a clinical area of concern within the special measures intervention at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and has been a regular topic of discussion in meetings my officials and I hold with the health board.

At my most recent meeting with the health board chair last month, I reiterated my continued concerns about the long-standing issues relating to dermatology, including access to dermatology consultants and the impact on the timeliness of skin cancer pathways. 

The health board recognises the significant challenges facing the service, particularly in relation to the increasing number of staff vacancies and the challenge of recruiting. Difficulties recruiting substantive staff mean there has been a reliance on interim and locum staff.

The health board has developed a plan to resolve immediate issues in the service and has set out a number of actions to support improved access to dermatology services including:

  • Expanding GP clinical input to deliver additional minor operations and triage capacity.
  • Exploring options to commission additional capacity from an external provider to support the service in the West of the health board area.
  • Implementation of teledermoscopy to support faster triaging of patients -supported by £200,00 Welsh Government funding.
  • Recruitment of a health board-wide clinical lead and rapid development of pan-BCUHB service model;
  • Continued engagement with the Clinical Implementation Network.

I have been clear with the chair, chief executive and wider executive team on numerous occasions that there is an urgent need for the health board to develop a sustainable service model for dermatology.  My officials and I will continue to seek assurance on this matter through regular meetings with the health board.