Award Winning UVB team shine a light on patients with skin conditions
The UVB Team in the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick has recently been awarded a major Northern Ireland Healthcare Award.
The gong was for the positive outcomes that have been recorded and the difference UVB treatment is making to the lives of patients who attend the service across the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.
UVB treatment is a process where patients receive unique phototherapy using Ultraviolet B (UVB) light wavelengths to treat a range of inflammatory skin diseases.
Patients are referred to the service by a Consultant Dermatologist and are then assessed and treated by the team.
The treatment is delivered within a UVB machine that envelopes the patient with beams of light to treat the affected area.
Patients must commit to attending the clinic three times per week, for a period of up to seven weeks for comprehensive treatment.
Consultant Dermatologist Dr Julia Tolland said: “I was part of the team that set up the service in the Downe Hospital approximately 15 years ago.
“Since then, the service has gone from strength to strength and has provided a great treatment hub for those suffering from skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis and skin itch.
“It also treats a series of rare conditions that react well to UVB treatment. Patients are generally managed with creams initially to help their symptoms.
“However, they have described how fed up they have become with having to lather themselves with greasy creams that often stain their clothing.
“Many also have to take strong medications, which can have side effects.
“The UVB treatment can be a good alternative or a complementary treatment in the overall care plan of each individual patient, based on their specific needs.
“Phototherapy is very effective for most people and can cause great improvement or complete clearance of their condition for up to a year at a time.
“Unfortunately, it does not work for everyone, but each patient will be given an alternative treatment to ensure they get the best possible care and medications/creams to suit them.”
Staff Nurse Teresa Malone has also been an integral part of the UVB service since it opened and has witnessed the difference that phototherapy has made to numerous patients over the years.
Teresa said: “The patients that we care for are so grateful for the treatment they receive.
“They travel across the Trust area and are happy to commit to doing that three times a week until their treatment is complete, as they can physically see and feel the benefits.
“It is amazing to see how their demeanour and confidence changes when their condition starts to improve. This service is changing lives and allowing people to improve their overall wellbeing.
“The service was absolutely vital coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It allowed patients who were suitable for treatment to avoid having to take strong medications that could have affected their immune system.
“Nursing staff get great support from Dr Tolland and her colleagues.
“Patient care is at the heart of the service. We work collectively and this allows us to refer patients to other services or to be treated for additional issues at their clinic appointments.
“Receiving the Northern Ireland Healthcare award was a lovely surprise and great recognition for the hard work and dedication of the entire team.
“It recognises the fabulous work that we do and the patients we look after.”