Professor Bill Cunliffe

Bill J Cunliffe Professor of Dermatology

President Gurminder Singh with Prof. Bill Cunliffe

The Leeds Dermatology Patient Panel

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Professor Bill Cunliffe

Rotarians and partners enjoyed a talk from Professor Bill Cunliffe, a much respected retired Leeds Consultant Dermatologist. Prof Cunliffe and his team improved the outcomes of thousands of patients with Acne. He is recognised as an international authority in the field with more than 400 papers to his name and many contributions to text books. Professor Cunliffe gave us the impression that he has been equally effective in improving the provision for patients in Leeds. He now spends most of his time working in a voluntary capacity as a member of the Leeds Dermatology Patient Panel based at Chapel Allerton Hospital.

How to get the best out of your hospital clinic appointment

Professor Cunliffe started by acknowledging the stresses and strains on the NHS including underfunding, leading to staffing pressures, low morale and knock on effects to the patient’s hospital experience. Bill was instrumental in setting up the Patients Dermatological Panel when the LGI Dermatology in-patient unit was threatened with closure which would mean the dispersion of patients across the hospital! Clinicians and patients were very concerned with the proposed changes, so alternative solutions were sought to save the dedicated medical ward.  Through collaborating with staff and taking concerns to the Health Scrutiny Board the dermatology unit was saved.  Other work of the panel has included fund raising, supporting staff appointments and contributing to the building plans for the move to Chapel Allerton unit. This holistic approach has resulted in improved layout and lighting for the new department. Patients and staff are also asked to provide low cost or no costs solutions to improve their hospital experience.

As a patient champion Professor Cunliffe explained how he saw things from a different perspective something he had not really considered when he was working as a Consultant. He realised that patient and staff feedback are very important for the patient experience and impacts on their wellbeing.  For example, an average of two minutes per appointment was saved when the consultation rooms were all laid out identically; stationary, forms and patients leaflets would all be in the same place which ever room was used. This simple and effective change has been largely responsible for the number of appointments waiting by over half an hour reducing from 33 % to 20%.

In giving the vote of thanks Raj Menon echoed the importance of good communication and getting the details right to enhance the patient (or as Raj said Rotarian) experience!