Following the announcement that a hospital clinic’s move may be made permanent, many patients are fearing for their wellbeing.

What was initially a temporary move is in talks to last for the foreseeable future for Cumberland Infirmary’s dermatology clinic, after the unit was moved to Hilltop Heights, on London Road, Carlisle, at the start of the pandemic.

The move was just one of many, with multiple services moved away from the main hospital site at the coronavirus outbreak, in a bid to reduce footfall and allow treatments to be carried out safely by staff, a spokesman for the North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC) trust said.

But after news of the clinic’s potential permanent relocation was announced, regular patient Michael Collins is worried and outraged by the discussion.

“I think anything that gets taken away from any hospital is a disservice to the people need it,” the 64-year-old said.

“People don’t consider it an important service – they say ‘it’s just skin’, but when your skin’s not right, nothing’s right, and your body doesn’t work properly.

“If you have psoriasis or eczema, any condition that affects the skin, it can be extremely painful, and walking up to the department at Hilltop Heights is going to make those in pain suffer even more.”

The Carlisle man has suffered from psoriasis for many years, being treated at Cumberland Infirmary for the painful condition since 1988.

But it’s not just himself that Mr Collins is concerned for.

“I’ve been treated for 32 years, and I’m currently okay – it’s other people that I think about. The department treats children and babies – little kids as young as two-years-old being treated for eczema,” he said.

“The people thinking of moving the department haven’t thought about the consequences at all; the discomfort and pain it will cause patients, the embarrassment of people with skin conditions being stared at as they walk all the way to the east side of town, and the inconvenience of not being able to just nip downstairs for your blood results, or across the hall for an x-ray if needed.”

He added: “The department deals with so many patients, like mole removals that could be cancer. If skin conditions are left, they can cause serious problems.

“They just don’t understand how terrible an idea moving the clinic is – it’s one thing during covid, that’s understandable, but it just won’t work, and it shows the lack of thought for patients and those suffering from painful conditions.”

A spokesman for NCIC stressed that any move would not be made permanent without first talking with staff and patients.

He said: “At the start of the pandemic, many of our outpatient services were suspended and/or delivered differently so that we could provide safe services in the hospital and reduce footfall at the hospital site.

“We are now undertaking a programme of work to safely re-start services across all outpatient specialities.”

He continued: “As part of this we are considering an option to permanently locate the service at the Hilltop Heights site and to provide it with state-of-the-art operating theatres and clinical consulting rooms.”

“Prior to any such move or permanent relocation, a consultation with staff and feedback from patients would take place with the intention of providing a long term, safe and secure service that is best placed to deliver what patients need.”