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DMC Healthcare dermatology contract suspended in north Kent

Around 1,000 skincare patients need to be seen urgently after health chiefs revealed they were suspending a supplier's contract over management fears.

DMC Healthcare has been providing a dermatology service in Dartford, Gravesham, Medway, Swale and Swanley since April last year.

Most at risk patients will be seen at Rainham Healthy Living Centre
Most at risk patients will be seen at Rainham Healthy Living Centre

The speciality service offers treatment for skin cancer patients as well as care for a range of conditions including rashes, lesions and lumps.

The company was awarded the contract following a short selection process involving patients, which was led by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

However, the CCG has recently raised concerns about the way the service is managed, as well as DMC’s ability to meet NHS standard contract requirements.

It comes after DMC provided new data which indicated a significant number of patients could be at risk.

Upon receipt, the CCG verbally suspended DMC’s contract to provide dermatology services on Friday, June 19.

Wilf Williams said the decision was taken to suspend the contract following concerns over patient waiting times.
Wilf Williams said the decision was taken to suspend the contract following concerns over patient waiting times.

It requested all clinics be cancelled due to patient safety concerns and written confirmation was served the following Monday.

The data is now being clinically analysed and while the CCG says it is too early to give exact figures, it is believed around 1,000 patients are affected.

CCG chief Wilf Williams said: “DMC Healthcare was chosen as the provider following a full procurement and due diligence process, allowing the CCG the opportunity to scrutinise providers to ensure the service on offer was safe, efficient and could be delivered for the duration of the contract.

"The selection process, which involved dermatology patients, was made on an anonymised basis which offers assurance that decisions are based on merit.

“However, recently the CCG has had concerns about the way DMC has managed the service and its ability to meet NHS standard contract requirements.

"Although we have been working with DMC to rectify this, insufficient improvements have been made."

Rainham Healthy Living Centre, Watling Street, Rainham
Rainham Healthy Living Centre, Watling Street, Rainham

He went on to add the data had indicated some patients had been on waiting lists for longer than they should have been.

As a result, he explained they would be suspending the service and ordering a full harm review, adding "patients and anyone who may be at risk will be contacted as soon as possible".

In the short term, patients who need to be seen quickly following review by their GP will be referred to the Sussex Community Dermatology Service.

Last week, it was reported how three DMC-run surgeries have been "closed down" in Medway over concerns. Attempts have been made to contact the company for comment.

The CCG has sourced another provider known as the 18 Week Support, which has worked in partnership with the NHS since 2014, specialising in reducing waiting lists and getting patients referred for treatment.

The team has an agreement in principle to see patients who are most at risk within six weeks at Rainham Healthy Living Centre in clinical rooms that have not treated patients with Covid symptoms.

Other practices DMC has served include the Balmoral Gardens clinic in Gillingham, the St Mary's Island surgery and the Fleet Health Campus in Northfleet.

The Fleet Health Campus serves patients in Northfleet and Gravesend, among others Photo: Google
The Fleet Health Campus serves patients in Northfleet and Gravesend, among others Photo: Google

It also operated out of Sheppey Community Hospital and Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital.

DMC also runs a much smaller dermatology service in East Kent but cancer patients and more serious cases are seen by the East Kent University Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The healthcare provider also carries out primary care functions but the CCG has confirmed the decision to suspend DMC’s dermatology contract will not affect these services, although they will be closely monitored.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend


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