Dermatology

Professor Nick Levell was appointed clinical lead for the dermatology workstream on 18th July 2017 , with the endorsement of the British Association of Dermatologists. You can read more about the appointment of clinical leads here.

Clinical Lead: Professor Nick Levell MD FRCP MBA

Consultant dermatologist (and senior dermatologist), Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,

National Specialty Lead (Dermatology) for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and

past-president of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) and Chair of the BAD Therapy and Guidelines Committee.

Professor Levell has been a consultant dermatologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for 24 years, where he is the senior dermatologist. He is particularly interested in diagnosis and treatment of complex skin disorders such as vasculitis and also has research in health economics and skin cancer epidemiology.  As Speciality National Lead for the NIHR, his team supports more than 50 clinical studies in over 200 centres across the UK.  He is past president of the British Association of Dermatologists and of the British Society for Medical Dermatology.  He chairs the national dermatology therapy and guidelines committee, which produces national guidelines and gives advice to national bodies including NICE.

Professor Levell said: “I am delighted to be part of the GIRFT team: it is an exciting to see the many examples of innovation and good practice which can be shared to improve services.”

Five minutes with… Professor Levell

Q: How did you first become interested in dermatology?
My parents both worked in NHS research. I was happy to help and I was interested by how clinical research increases understanding. Early memories are of being exercised, then measured and having blood tests, so it seemed natural to become a doctor who did some research.

I have always found history intriguing: medical history is very much about skin diseases – leprosy, scabies, psoriasis etc. I also enjoy art, so the visual pattern-recognition aspect of dermatology is rewarding. Dermatology is a fascinating mix of visual impression, logic and understanding the impact of skin disease on people’s confidence, lifestyle, mood and self-image.

Q: What excites you most about your specialty?
You can help so many. Nearly everybody has a skin, hair or nail problem which bothers them. My partner and I enjoy group multinational adventure holidays and when we join a new group there is always a round of quick consultations after people find out what you do.

By contrast with many specialties which require expensive kit, in dermatology you can help nearly everybody in a few minutes with words of advice or simple remedies. Last year, while travelling by small boat and camping in Africa, days from help, one of our guides had a splinter in his hand for a few days and an infection was spreading up his arm – he was unwell and shivering. We removed the splinter, drained the abscess, dressed the wound and treated him with antibiotics from our kit.

There is no excitement to compare with the “thank you” the next day.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?
There is a huge feeling of satisfaction out of making a diagnosis, treating somebody and seeing them improve. It has also been a privilege working with some very talented colleagues at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

My years as president of the British Association of Dermatologists gave me the opportunity to help some of the difficult problems facing our speciality. Despite dermatology being a popular choice for young doctors, we have a workforce shortage as unfortunately we do not have enough formal training capacity. It was satisfying to be able to change attitudes in many to encourage dermatology specialist training by the CESR route.

Q: Who or what inspires you?
People. Everybody has talents. It may be in communication, style, humour, a different perception on life, creativity, wisdom, fortitude in adversity, clarity of thought or modesty. I think the trick is to look for it in everybody, not just in the people who hold prestigious roles.

Q: How do you relax?
Talking to friends, family and my children. Walking in mountainous, remote places with sparkling, reflective people to light the way.

Project Manager: Emma Jones