Inflammatory Skin Conditions
In the latest in our new series on improving care for people with long-term health conditions, Dods Impact and AbbVie explore how the use of digital images for skin lesions can deliver a step change in treatment for inflammatory skin conditions
Inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema can have a profound and debilitating impact on people of all ages. They are also a major issue for NHS capacity. Ask any practicing GP, and they will tell you that skin conditions account for up to a third of all appointments.
Living with an inflammatory skin condition can also have serious consequences for mental as well as physical health. In a recent survey by the APPG on Skin, 93% of respondents said that their skin condition impacted on their self-esteem, 5% reported that they had even contemplated suicide.
Chair of the APPG Sir Edward Leigh, who himself suffers from rosacea, is concerned that the pandemic has had a profound impact on those living with inflammatory skin conditions.
“The waiting time for patients with long-term skin conditions to see a secondary care specialist has been growing for years,” he tells us. “This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Dominic Urmston, from the Psoriasis Association shares Leigh’s concerns. He has heard from many patients who have had their treatments disrupted.
“During the pandemic many people with inflammatory skin conditions saw face-to-face appointments either changed to remote consultations or cancelled altogether,” he explains. “This has led to an appointment backlog and increased waiting times for specialist care, with many people seeing their symptoms worsen in the meantime.”
Urmston’s experience has now been backed up by a recent report, commissioned and funded by biopharmaceutical company AbbVie and carried out by health research consultancy Carnell Farrar.
The report highlights the impact of the pandemic on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It reports that during the first year of the pandemic first outpatient attendances for dermatology plummeted by 28%, while elective hospital admissions for psoriasis alone fell by the same number. This is one of the largest falls seen within any patient group. As a result, while we know around 300,000 patients are currently on the routine waiting list, the overall backlog of patients could be much higher – one hypothecated model by Carnall Farrar suggests over 900,000 patients were unaccounted for during the first 18 months of the pandemic and are potentially still in need of care.*
“Appointment levels are now slowly recovering,” Todd Manning, General Manager at AbbVie, “but even if they reach pre-pandemic levels that alone will not come close to clearing the backlog created by the pandemic unless new