SUSPECTED skin cancer patients across Leeds can now look forward to much quicker diagnosis.

Pioneering technology has been set up in all local GP practices, including in Aireborough, Horsforth and parts of Wharfedale, to speed up diagnosis and treatment.

The Teledermatology Service allow doctors to take images of anything unusual on the skin and send them straight to hospital for analysis.

That means patients should receive a diagnosis within 48 hours of seeing their GP - instead of the previous, two week wait.

NHS Leeds says the change will transform skin cancer care in the Leeds area.

Patients who turn out not to have cancer will be reassured quickly, while those with a serious condition should get access to treatment sooner.

The project is part of the Leeds Cancer Programme, a joint venture by Macmillan Cancer Support, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Macmillan Project Lead (Early Diagnosis) at NHS Leeds, Helen Ryan, said: “With the volume of skin cancer referrals increasing it is more important than ever that we work together to improve services and deliver the best care for patients.

“The Teledermatology Service will completely transform the way we deal with suspected skin cancer in Leeds creating a smoother, more effective process for both the patient and healthcare professionals.

“Patients who previously had to wait two weeks for an appointment will now have their diagnosis within 48 hours, helping to reduce anxiety, limit unnecessary hospital visits and, most importantly, provide faster access to treatment.”

Fifty one year old Leeds resident Debra Wood, who was diagnosed with skin cancer last August, has welcomed the news.

She said: “I went to the GP with a mole that didn’t look quite right. Straight away, I could tell from the look on his face that it was bad, so I thought it was probably skin cancer, but then had to wait two more weeks to go to the hospital and have it confirmed.

“I suffer from anxiety anyway, so there was all sorts going through my mind.

“The worst part is there’s no one to speak to between going to the GP and being referred and going to hospital.

“The waiting was really hard. To be able to get that diagnosis sooner would make a massive difference as it would put your mind at rest.”

National cancer transformation funding for the scheme – a total of £367,000 – was secured in 2017/2018 by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate (WYH) Cancer Alliance.

Consultant Dermatologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Walayat Hussain, said: “We see thousands of patients in clinic who are referred for suspected skin cancer and they are given appointments to come to clinic within two weeks from their referral.

“We know that this is a really nerve-wracking time for patients as they wait for a diagnosis and we want to make this easier.

“By rolling out the teledermatology system across Leeds, we can review the image that GPs attach to each referral and make a decision if the patient needs to be seen in clinic or not.

“This means we can reassure those patients who do not have skin cancer sooner, but also free up clinic time for those who need to be seen so they can start treatment more quickly.”