Lighthouse Clinic remains open but under contract with Portsmouth NHS

By Carole Dennett Mar 29, 2024
The Lighthouse Clinic in Crocker Street

Portsmouth NHS Trust has issued an apology after patients and GPs couldn’t make appointments with the Lighthouse Clinic in Newport, however concerns have been raised that responsibility for NHS services is moving off the Island.

Patients contacted the IW Observer after clinic staff, allegedly “sworn to secrecy”, told them that many dermatology services may be moved to Portsmouth and they feared for their jobs. One patient, unable to make an appointment for an urgent skin problem, said she contacted her GP, who told her he didn’t know where to refer her.

The highly-regarded Lighthouse Clinic, in Crocker Street, is the only Island provider of consultant-led dermatology services and has delivered NHS dermatology treatment since 2016. It carries out nearly 1,000 appointments and 150 biopsies each month for Island NHS patients. In 2022 it was named Dermatology Team of the Year.

The IW Observer was led a merry dance as we tried to find out what was happening. We contacted the clinic to be told that enquiries must go to the IW NHS Trust. St Mary’s Hospital sent us to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (H&IW ICB). We contacted them but received no reply. After the IW Observer put a post on-line about the issue, we received an email from Natalie Borman, director of networked services at Portsmouth NHS, who said a new “subcontract” had been signed and Lighthouse Clinic services would continue from the same locations with the same staff. She apologised for “disruption that patients have faced during this transition” adding “GPs and patients will be able to book appointments in the same way as before.”

However, when we asked why Island dermatology had been transferred to Portsmouth NHS, we were directed back to H&IW ICB.

Sir Paul Kenny, who contacted the IW Observer on behalf of a number of patients, called on the NHS to come clean. He said: “It’s very good news that the Lighthouse Clinic will continue to provide services. But why is dermatology, that has been delivered through a contract with the IW NHS, now a subcontract with Portsmouth’s NHS? Islanders don’t appear to have been informed about this, let alone consulted.

“Accountability is moving off-Island, if not services – yet!”

The management and clinical teams of the two trusts merged early last year and they now share a chairman and CEO. At the time the IW NHS Trust issued a statement in response to concerns raised by Island Labour, claiming the organisations would remain separate and responsible for their own services. MP Bob Seely welcomed the merger, saying it “paves the way for more reforms.”

Sir Paul added: “Thanks to the IW Observer, the public finally have an answer to the concerns about the future of the Lighthouse services. Why on earth couldn’t this have happened sooner and avoided patients’ worries. Usually, the horse comes before the cart.”

Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, Lyn Darby, director of acute care at H&IW ICB, said: “When this contract comes to an end later this month, a new agreement will see the Lighthouse working with both the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, providing a joined-up service for Island patients.  We continue to work closely with Lighthouse and NHS partners to ensure patient feedback is taken on-board and actioned appropriately.”