Latest information on dermatology services in north and east Kent

17 July 2020

East Kent DMC dermatology service suspended

On 17 July 2020, NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suspended the dermatology service provided by DMC Healthcare in east Kent which cared for some 200 patients. This service was originally commissioned by the former Ashford CCG and Canterbury and Coastal CCG.

This followed the suspension of a similar service provided by DMC Healthcare in north Kent on 19 June 2020. This service also covered cancer patients which the east Kent contract does not.

Dermatology is the medical term for the treatment or management of skin conditions which can include rashes, lesions, lumps on the skin, changes to moles and skin cancer.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway CCG, said: “Following the suspension of the service in North Kent, we immediately began to review the service in east Kent. Although it is much smaller and does not include patients being tested and treated for skin cancer, we found there were similar issues with patient data that gave enough cause for concern to suspend the service.  

“Patients do not need to do anything and will be automatically transferred to Sussex Community Dermatology Service (SCDS), a registered NHS organisation, which is already delivering clinics in north Kent as an extension of their West Kent Dermatology Service.

“We believe some patients have been on waiting lists for longer than they should have been but the new temporary service will begin to see patients from 6 August and aims to see them all within six weeks.

“Although we will be contacting patients, there is some concern over the quality of DMC’s data and we cannot be confident we have every patient’s details. Therefore a helpline has been set up for patients in north and east Kent who may have concerns.”

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “On 19 June 2020, we took the decision to suspend DMC Healthcare’s contract for dermatology services in Medway, Swale, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley to ensure patient safety.

“We now have temporary provider Sussex Community Dermatology Service (SCDS), a registered NHS organisation, in place and delivering clinics.

"They will be providing care to the patients in North Kent as an extension of the West Kent Dermatology Service they already provide.

“SCDC has already seen more than 500 patients for clinical treatment and held three multidisciplinary clinics, which bring a range of clinicians from different specialities together, to review patients being treated for cancer.

"In addition, we have held clinics for patients on long-term medication therapies to ensure their safety.

“As of today (Wednesday 15 July), we have now completed the transfer of all patients to the new temporary provider.

"Patients may receive a call from DMC cancelling their appointment but I would like to reassure them that they will soon be contacted by SCDS to re-arrange. Patients do not need to take any action.”

As the situation develops, www.bit.ly/NorthKentDerm will be kept updated, so please check for the latest information.

For media queries related to this, please contact kmccg.comms@nhs.net or phone 07825 844666.

NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suspended DMC Healthcare’s contract to provide dermatology services in Medway, Swale, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley on 19 June 2020. This decision was taken to ensure patient safety after the CCG identified concerns about the provider’s ability to meet NHS standard contract requirements.

Dermatology is the medical term for the treatment or management of skin conditions which can include rashes, lesions, lumps on the skin, changes to moles and skin cancer.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway CCG, said: “Since we took the decision to suspend DMC Healthcare’s contract for dermatology services, we have been working hard to put alternative provision in place to best meet patient needs.

“There are 1,855 patients who need procedures and these patients are being contacted and booked into clinics which will begin on Friday 10 July. The 18 Week Support team, which specialises in seeing a high volume of patients in a short space of time, will be running the clinics with support from West Kent Dermatology Service.

“West Kent Dermatology Service will also see new routine patients once the priority patients have been treated. The service is already receiving referrals and has the capacity to see more than 500 new patients per week. Services will be led by expert consultant dermatologists with a team of more than 20 consultants available to deliver services. 

“Patients with newly diagnosed cancer and inflammatory skin disease will be seen and linked to other specialist services as required. This will include skin cancer support services provided at Queen Victoria Hospital and oncology services provided by Maidstone Hospital. Multidisciplinary clinics – which bring a range of clinicians from different specialities together – have already begun to ensure these patients are seen as quickly as possible.

“Both West Kent Dermatology Service and the temporary service being delivered in North Kent are fully supported by parent provider Sussex Community Dermatology Service (SCDS). SCDS provides dermatology services across Sussex, Surrey and Kent with a proven track record of service delivery for more than 10 years, working in acute hospital trust and community locations.

“Although we are still in the process of clinically triaging and validating data provided by DMC Healthcare, we know there is a large waiting list of patients who need to be assessed so we are planning provision for them. Once we have clearer data, we will put plans in place to treat patients as quickly as possible. It has been important to prioritise the high risk patients which is what we have been concentrating on.”

Clinics will take place at Rainham Healthy Living Centre, High St, Rainham and Fleet Health Campus, Vale Rd, Northfleet.

The CCG has asked clinicians who see patients that have been waiting a long time to consider whether they believe any delays to their treatment may have caused harm.

As the situation develops, www.bit.ly/NorthKentDerm will be kept updated so please check for the latest information.

For more press information, please contact kmccg.comms@nhs.net or phone 07825 844666.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “DMC Healthcare has provided the North Kent Dermatology Service, which covers Medway, Swale, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, since 1 April 2019. Dermatology is the medical term for the treatment or management of skin conditions which can include rashes, lesions, lumps on the skin, changes to moles and skin cancer.

“DMC Healthcare was chosen as the provider following a full procurement and due diligence process, allowing the CCG the opportunity to scrutinise providers to ensure the service on offer was safe, efficient and could be delivered for the duration of the contract. The selection process, which involved dermatology patients, was made on an anonymised basis which offers assurance that decisions are based on merit.

“However, recently the CCG has had concerns about the way DMC has managed the service and their ability to meet NHS standard contract requirements. Although we have been working with DMC to rectify this, unfortunately insufficient improvements have been made. 

“We now have data that indicates some patients have been on waiting lists for longer than they should have been. To ensure patient safety, we have suspended DMC’s contract to provide dermatology services. We will be conducting a full harm review to give assurance to patients and anyone who may be at risk will be contacted as soon as possible.

“Patients who need urgent treatment will be seen by the 18 Week Support Team that has worked in partnership with the NHS since 2014, specialising in reducing waiting lists and getting patients the treatment they need. The team will be working from Rainham Healthy Living Centre in clinical rooms where patients with Covid symptoms have not been treated.

“We already have alternative providers in the locality delivering dermatology care that are offered through patient choice. Sussex Community Dermatology Service has capacity to provide additional support until longer term solutions are established, ensuring no delays for new patients needing urgent investigation following review by their GPs.

“The CCG is now working with DMC Healthcare, NHS England and the Care Quality Commission to review the dermatology service, as well as the primary care services that DMC provides in Medway, Swale and Maidstone. DMC also runs a much smaller dermatology service in east Kent but more serious cases are seen by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

“Patients do not need to take any action as they will be contacted as soon as possible.”

Patient helpline open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday.

0300 555 0708

Find out more about the helpline

Updates are being added to this page as new information is available. Previous statements are shown in the boxes at the bottom of the page.

Paula Wilkins
Chief Nurse, Kent and Medway CCG
"We are very sorry this has happened and we are working hard to make sure everyone affected gets the treatment they need without any further delays."

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