Improving access to phototherapy centre

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PATIENTS suffering with skin conditions in Tayside will now have more opportunity to be treated at the newly refurbished Phototherapy Treatment Centre, based at Ninewells Hospital, as the service extends beyond normal clinic hours.

The clinic has been fully refurbished, to provide an improved treatment and waiting area for the many patients who use this service and this was officially launched on Tuesday (yesterday) by NHS Tayside chairman Sandy Watson and chief executive Gerry Marr.

The clinic will now be open Monday to Friday from 7.30a m to 6.30 pm and on Saturday from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm.

The change in opening hours is a result of consultation with staff and patients to improve access to the service.

Opening earlier and over lunchtime and closing later each day as well as opening on a Saturday will provide a range of fixed appointment options for patients who have work and other commitments.

The term phototherapy literally means the use of light, especially ultraviolet light, to treat medical conditions.

Natural sunlight has been known to be beneficial in certain skin disorders for thousands of years, and it is the ultraviolet part of the sun’s spectrum that is used in phototherapy.

The Phototherapy Treatment Centre offers light treatment for skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and acne.

Phototherapy works by reducing inflammation in the skin and can help in the treatment of these conditions. The patient is exposed to ultraviolet light in a walk-in cabinet containing fluorescent light bulbs.

The centre currently treats around 200 patients per week. As patients are generally seen three times per week, with a day in between, most patients are seen Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

By extending the opening hours, some patients will be able to be seen Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, resulting in the clinic being able to provide a greater range of treatment times and treat more patients.

Phototherapy patient Hazel McKenzie has been attending the clinic for treatment for psoriasis for several months. Prior to the extension of the opening hours, Hazel had to take time off work for appointments.

As she has to attend the clinic three times per week this was sometimes a difficult thing to arrange.

Hazel said: “Both myself and my daughter go to Ninewells for phototherapy treatment for psoriasis and it was difficult to juggle appointments with our work and childcare arrangements for my granddaughter.

“With the clinic now being open at lunchtimes, as well as on a Saturday morning, it is much easier for us to fit in appointments.

“The staff at the clinic are very friendly and do what they can to be as flexible as possible.”

NHS Tayside consultant dermatologist Professor James Ferguson said: “By extending the opening hours in the Phototherapy Treatment Centre, we are improving access to phototherapy for Tayside patients.”

Mr Watson said: “This is a good example of a service listening to and acting on what patients say to them.

“I would like to say a huge well done to all those involved in progressing this service.”