New research shows that more than three million primary care hours are spent on skin conditions, at a cost to the NHS of £723 million each year.
The research, carried out by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry in collaboration with an independent Dermatology Expert Working Group (EWG), highlights the burden of skin conditions on both patients and the NHS.
According to the findings, around 13.2 million people in England visited their GP with a skin problem in 2016, of which 85 percent said the psychosocial aspects of their condition were a significant part of their illness.
The research also showed that almost 60 percent of patients with severe psoriasis could lose up to 26 days of work a year because of their skin condition.
“Today’s findings bring into sharp focus the staggering amount of time and money the NHS spends on the management of skin conditions in primary care and the significant impact skin conditions can have on people’s lives,” said EQG chair Rt Hon Professor Paul Burstow.
“Ignore dermatology and we miss a huge opportunity to make real and immediate gains for the NHS and for people’s quality of life.”
The group’s report, Making real our shared vision for the NHS: optimising the treatment and care of people with long-term skin conditions in England, makes a stream of recommendations designed to drive efficiencies and improve patient outcomes.
It calls on NHS England to promote and support successful self-management through patient education programmes for specific long-term skin conditions, led by suitably trained healthcare professionals (HCPs), as well as promote promote and incentivise the adoption of technology such as email guidance and smartphone apps.
NHS England should also put in place suitable incentives to encourage commissioners to implement teledermatology pathways to triage patients with skin lesions appropriately and free up face-to-face time for clinicians to see patients with inflammatory skin conditions, it said.