Views & Reviews Personal View

The UK needs office dermatologists

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 10 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6006

Re: The UK needs office dermatologists

Professor Rees has raised an important issue. Skin problems constitute a significant proportion of general practice consultations and yet few GPs have had any significant training in dermatology. No one would contemplate offering GP obstetric care without further qualification, but this is considered acceptable for skin care (perhaps because the risk of causing harm is less). However, on economic grounds alone, this is not a good use of NHS funds.

Some GPs have studied one of the postgraduate diplomas - such as the Cardiff Diploma in Practical Dermatology - and as a result have excellent skills, but not all GPs can afford the time to do this. In Cardiff we provide a Teledermatology service - which focuses on giving timely advice (within 48 hours) to GPs on the diagnosis and management of patients with skin problems under their care. This form of consultant supervision and support has proven to be very popular with GPs and 80% of the patients referred are managed entirely in primary care. In the modern digital age this is one way in which Consultant Dermatologists can support GPs who are seeing the majority of patients with skin problems and a relatively simple method of supporting dermatology services in primary care.

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 September 2012
Richard J Motley
Welsh Institute of Dermatology
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. CF14 4XW