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Patient fears as vital skin ward faces closure; NHS CONFIRM DEPARTMENT UNDER REVIEW Sufferers hit out over lifeline hospital unit.

Byline: | Norman Silvester

A specialist ward for patients with rare and extreme skin conditions is facing the axe.

The move has been criticised by sufferers, who say the unit gives them a lifeline and the ability to lead normal lives.

Eczema and psoriasis sufferers have been informed that six beds at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow are being phased out.

The unit takes patients with severe allergic skin conditions from across Scotland, including the Outer and Inner Hebrides.

Some travel up to 300 miles to get treatment and there is a lengthy waiting list.

They have been told they face being treated as out-patients or in ordinary medical wards where they say there is not the same expertise.

The unit at the hospital's Ward 2A treats patients for up to 12 days at a time, every eight weeks.

Complicated skin conditions leave sufferers covered from head to toe in painful blotches, unable to sleep, exhausted and in discomfort.

The ward provides intensive treatments using special tars, creams and bandages that temporarily relieve their condition.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that the unit is under review.

Leighanne Carnochan, from Glasgow, has had chronic atopic eczema since she was a baby.

The 39-year-old, who claims a staff member warned her the ward faced closure, goes there for four days every two months.

She said the treatment enables her to keep her full-time job as a nursery nurse.

Leighanne said: "We've been told that because our conditions are not life-threatening, the unit will be phased out.

"When I was first admitted to the dermatological unit five years ago, it changed my life.

"Sometimes you're so down, you don't feel like living. You don't want to go out because it's so painful and people look at you.

"I used to be bullied because of the way I looked.

"I was on a train recently when four men made jokes about the way I looked. Even now, I still get people looking at me in the street."

Similar dermatological wards at three other hospitals in Glasgow and one in Paisley have closed down.

Leighanne added: "My skin is unpredictable. If I'm put in a normal medical ward with other patients, I'd feel self-conscious about my appearance.

"Other sufferers I know have said they feel the same.

"There's also no guarantee we'd get the same levels of care as outpatients."

Moira Fraser, 71, from East Renfrewshire, who suffers from chronic psoriasis, has been treated in the unit for the past 18 years.

The mum of four says when the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital opened three years ago, patients were told it would have 14 dedicated dermatology beds.

They were previously treated at the former Southern General hospital on the same site.

Moira said: "Since this new hospital was opened in 2015, the number of beds has been reduced.

"We've been told we'll be treated in future as outpatients at other hospitals.

"There's been no consultation with the patients over this.

"My last treatment was earlier this month for 12 days and it really made a difference to my skin."

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "In common with all other boards in Scotland, NHSGGC are taking forward a wide-ranging review of all our services and how they are delivered. This applies to dermatology services as it does to all the other services we deliver.

"In regard to Ms Carnochan, our local service leads will link directly with the patient as required to agree how best to meet her ongoing needs.

"Any patient who is clinically assessed as requiring inpatient treatment will be admitted to hospital."

If I'm put in a normal ward with other patients, I'd feel self-conscious about my appearance

CAPTION(S):

WORRIED Leighanne, above, and Moira, right. Inset, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 5, 2018
Words:634
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