PERFORMANCE: The high profile collapse of dermatology services at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is now having a knock-on effect on the services at a neighbouring trust, board papers indicate.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust has reported that the withdrawal of “key” consultant posts in paediatric dermatology at Nottingham has exacerbated its own difficulties in meeting waiting list targets.

The trust has an agreement in place for Nottingham consultants to carry out clinical work at its Newark and King’s Mill hospitals, including in children’s dermatology.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust drastically scaled back its acute adult dermatology services earlier this year

A trust spokeswoman told HSJ that the loss of staff at Nottingham also posed “challenges” to Sherwood Forest’s ability to continue to provide paediatric dermatology services.

Nottingham was forced to drastically scale back its acute adult dermatology services earlier this year, following the departure of most of the service’s consultants. The consultants had objected to commissioners’ decision to transfer elective dermatology care to private provider Circle.

As HSJ reported in May, Nottingham’s paediatric dermatology service is now also under severe strain.

An independent investigation into the changes to the dermatology service’s collapse described the commissioning process as an “unmitigated disaster”.

Documents presented to Sherwood Forest’s board last week state: “Some specialties continue to struggle achieving the standards at specialty level, and particular challenges remain in [ear, nose and throat] and paediatric dermatology due to the tertiary withdrawal of key consultant posts at Nottingham University Hospitals.”

A trust spokeswoman said it was not possible to identify how many more patients its own staff needed to treat as a direct result of the problems at Nottingham.

However, she added: “For a number of years this [agreement for Nottingham consultants to provide care on site] has included paediatric dermatologists.

“Whilst these aren’t the only consultants who provide such services in our hospitals, it does pose a challenge to continuing the service we provide going forward.

“It is not possible to identify how many more patients have been seen directly as a result of NUH’s changes in provision, as dermatology is already a service that is both growing and is heavily seasonal, with increased referrals as the weather improves.” 

The concern comes as national figures show that Sherwood Forest missed all three 18 week referral to treatment waiting targets in May: the admitted, non-admitted, and incomplete pathways.

Trust board papers said a reason for the underperformance was a failure to find sufficient capacity to manage patients’ overdue review appointments.