Significant variation work at Cockermouth Community Hospital has paved the way for providing dedicated, bespoke facilities for community dermatology and minor skin surgery services.
The £370,000 building changes, funded by Community Health Partnerships (CHP), have transformed a vacant area, into a centre of excellence for dermatology. As well as the existing GP practices and community services (including an in-patient ward), the building now includes a range of consultation and minor surgery facilities and has also allowed Cumbria Medical Services (CMS), who deliver the services, to bring together their clinical and support teams.
CMS specialise in dermatology, minor skin surgery and ophthalmology and carry out more than 20,000 consultations each year. They offer community-based services, often within four to six weeks of the initial referral. They also work closely with hospital-based acute services and clinical consultants in Cumbria where onward referral is necessary.
Community-based care also frees up the acute hospitals to deal with other serious conditions. Better use of the Cockermouth building will also save the local health economy an estimated £50,000 a year in space costs.
Dr Fayyaz Chaudhri, Clinical Director at CMS, stressed the importance of the services provided.
“Integrated services are much more efficient in terms of resources and in reducing patients’ waiting times,” he said. “The improvements at Cockermouth have enabled us to provide a better service to local communities alongside our own expertise gained over many years.”
This GPwER (GP with Extended Role) service has been developed over the past few years in North Cumbria by Dr Martin White and Dr Fayyaz Chaudhri. They have had very positive feedback from patients, with a very high proportion of patients rating the service excellent or good. In addition to the services at Cockermouth, CMS provides other community based services, such as minor surgery and ophthalmology from a number of locations across Cumbria, giving patients the benefit of care closer to home.
Charles Welbourn, Chief Finance Officer at North Cumbria CCG believes the development shows the benefit of integrated working.
“Working with both CMS and CHP we have a solution that provides improved facilities for patients and staff in these important community services while ensuring the existing NHS Estate is used to deliver best value,” he said.
Dan Cook, CHP Programme Manager for the Cockermouth changes, said that CHP’s Developments, Property and Lease teams are pleased to have supported Cumbria Medical Services and North Cumbria CCG to transform the building.
“Having overcome delays to the original programme and then undertaken work in a live building during the Covid pandemic, CHP is very excited to enable the benefits that this project will deliver to the community and the savings it will provide to the health economy. These works ensure that these community buildings are truly at the heart of the community,” he said.
Carveti Partnership Limited worked together with CHP to manage and deliver the project.
11 January 2021