VECTIS VIEW: A Lighthouse Clinic Patient

A couple of years ago, what I thought was a large spot appeared on my face. I thought it was just temporary, but it grew, and was very unsightly.

I should perhaps explain that I am in my 70s, and although I have enjoyed good health for much of my life, various parts of my body are now beginning to fail. I didn’t know what the blemish on my face was, so I decided to go to my local GP, and was quickly seen and referred to the Lighthouse Clinic in Newport. I was seen quickly, within weeks, and the staff and experts I saw were very reassuring.

When they told me that I had a form of skin cancer I was frightened. But they immediately reassured me that it could be removed, and I was not to worry. Within a week I was given a further appointment, and two expert nurses prepped me for removal. It was all over in 20 minutes, and I was told that that had probably done the job, so was mightily relieved. I was a bit worried about the scar because the blemish was just below my left eye. They reassured me that any scar would be virtually invisible. And they were right.

Two weeks later I was contacted by the clinic with the news that they were concerned that maybe they hadn’t managed to remove everything. They wanted me to go to Southampton for radiography treatment, just to be sure that everything had been excised. Within a week I was back and forth for five days in Southampton and was then back on the Island for a further consultation with the Lighthouse Clinic. In the six months that followed I was seen twice and fully examined for any signs of remaining skin cancer and always reassured with constant and powerful mental support. My next check-up was due next month. I received a letter saying that the appointment could not be confirmed but no explanation was given. Four weeks ago, I rang the clinic to see what was happening. I was simply told that no appointments were available but that I might be told something in due course. This worried me. I have heard so many stories about skin cancer and how it can rapidly embed itself without prompt treatment, and also spread to other parts of the body. It’s now a month since I spoke to the clinic but no information has been forthcoming. I’m frightened again!

So what is going on here? I have had truly wonderful treatment from the Lighthouse Clinic which has helped me through a health condition that everybody must find very worrying. I hear rumours that the NHS on the Island are going to downgrade the clinic and force treatment to move off the Island. But what does that mean?

It’s time for us all to start to sit up and protest at the remote decision making being made every day by bureaucrats in every public service which seem to have no regard for the security and welfare of those who are intended to be supported by such services. We know that resources are tight and money, for many services, is being cut back. But we should have an opportunity to say what value we get from these services, and there should be innovative ways available to keep these services going which are valued so highly by those of us who need them.

So, tell us, what you are going to do now! Are you going to downgrade the services offered by the wonderful Lighthouse Clinic? Or are you going to listen the thousands of people whose lives they have made immeasurably better?

This was written before the announcement that the Lighthouse Clinic has signed a new subcontract with Portsmouth NHS Trust.