Health chiefs in the region are celebrating becoming finalists in the national Health Service Journal ‘Value Awards’ 2020 for an innovative project to improve waiting times for skin cancer diagnosis.

The initiative succeeded in reducing waiting times for skin cancer referrals from two weeks to one working day as GPs can now take photos of patient’s skin lesions and sent them directly to a consultant dermatologist.

Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer for NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said, “We can now get images from the GP to a consultant dermatologist who can view them and make a decision in one day. The patient can then be told they don’t have skin cancer or they can be referred into the appropriate service for further tests.

“This hugely reduces the stress for patients waiting for information. This process used to take two weeks and now it can be done in one day, this is a hugely positive step for the NHS and for patients and their health outcomes and we are delighted with the recognition.”

The project was a partnership between NHS County Durham CCG, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Consultant Connect with support from the Northern Cancer Alliance and covers a population of more than one million.

The ‘Tele-skin Two Week Wait Pathway’ was awarded Finalist status in the ‘Acute Service Redesign Initiative’ category in the virtual awards held on Friday 4th September 2020.