Why report to EPIDERM?

by | Dec 1, 2020 | EPIDERM | 0 comments

Professor David J Gawkrodger is a Consultant Dermatologist and Honorary Professor of Dermatology at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield. Here, he talks about why reporting to EPIDERM is so important.

You are one of the dedicated band of reporters to EPIDERM, and you may be wondering, why do I bother reporting?

After all, reporting is not easy. It requires effort to keep a note of patients seen and to fill in a return, monthly for core contributors. You get a newsletter that includes the case of the quarter and the Beck Report, but where does it all get us?

The public has high expectations for its health – at work as well as personal. It is vital that the occupational well-being of the nations of the UK is improved along with the high-profile areas of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The diagnosis of occupational disease is often difficult and the data cannot readily be obtained from general practice records. It frequently needs specialist input from occupational physicians and organ-specific specialists. Hence, to monitor rates and trends of occupational skin disease, a national setup was needed that involved those who can diagnose the conditions.

We have already obtained a lot from EPIDERM. It has allowed an insight into the skin health of the working nation and as such is unique. The project had yielded papers on the national prevalence of occupational skin disease as well as studies on more specific areas such as nickel.

Notwithstanding the efforts of all those involved, it is still apparent that the reported rates of occupational skin disease are an underestimate. There are many reasons for this, not least the reticence of patients to come forward, the reluctance of GPs to refer on, and under-recognition of the contribution of occupational factors by secondary care professionals.

One area of gross under-reporting is occupational skin cancer, where the contribution of a lifetime’s sun-exposure from outdoor work is often not even enquired about, and perhaps as many of those affected are retired.

So, is it worth it? Well, yes of course it is! How else are we going to monitor what is happening nationally, and how else are we going to inform politicians of the requirements for better workplace skin health?

Besides, where else can you read the pearls of wisdom of Mike Beck every three months?

Find out more about the EPIDERM reporting scheme.