Freedom of Information requests have revealed that a terribly disfiguring, yet eminently treatable, disease has been routinely dismissed by Scottish health boards despite the debilitating impact it has on mostly white, older male sufferers.

 

The condition is called rhinophyma, a disfiguring nasal deformity in which the nose becomes redder, swollen at the end and develops a bumpy and misshapen surface. Sufferers become acutely embarrassed and, as the deformity worsens, can withdraw into themselves and, in some cases, refuse to leave their homes.

 

Disturbed by the number of patients he was seeing who had apparently been abandoned by the NHS, Jonathan Toye, co-Founder and Managing Director of Ever Clinic, a Glasgow-based medical aesthetics specialist, submitted a number of requests for definitive information.

 

He asked boards how many patients had been referred to an NHS plastic surgery/dermatology consultant for rhinophyma since 2019; how many had been treated; how many were waiting for treatment; and what was the average waiting time?

 

Eleven of the 12 health boards which he approached said that they did not hold the information which he requested, or that they did not have it in a reportable format, and so the requests were refused.

 

The only health board – Greater Glasgow and Clyde – which did have the information and which was willing to disclose it reported that 32 referrals had been made for NHS plastic surgery for rhinophyma since 2019.

 

Of these, nine patients had been seen as out-patients and discharged from the service as treatment was not required or did not meet the criteria for treatment. Five are still on the waiting lists. None have been treated.

 

Mr Toye said it was reasonable to extrapolate from these responses that non-treatment for what was a major problem for a particular section of the population was essentially being ignored by most of the country’s health sector.

 

He said: “To be clear, this is not a cosmetic issue. For patients, it is very much a mental health issue. People currently will often wait two to three years to be told by the NHS that nothing can be done for them, during which time the rhinophyma, inevitably, will have significantly worsened.

 

“Because most health boards claim not to have figures does not mean that the problem does not exist. It simply means that the cries for help from the poor unfortunates affected have not been coded properly under the NHS’s reporting systems.

 

“I am convinced that the figures for breast enhancement, which are perceived as cosmetic and largely elective, and reduction surgery or gastric band operations, all of which are carried out routinely at the public expense, will have been properly coded and will be available.

 

“At the same time men suffering from rhinophyma are being turned away for something that’s more than cosmetic. Moreover, Covid-19 cannot be used as an excuse for not treating them because Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s figures show that such procedures as breast implants, tummy tucks and nose re-shaping continued to be undertaken during the pandemic.”

 

Mr Toye said he was taking this action not because of the clinical business in which he is involved, but because he had seen too often the tragic, soul-destroying effects of the condition, which he is aware can be successfully treated and which can, quite literally, transform people’s lives.

 

He said it was time to have an open and honest conversation with the NHS about why, when there are existing clinics which can deal with the situation, the service is not taking advantage of them.

 

Mr Toye said: “We have made efforts to open dialogue with the NHS about taking on their rhinophyma cases, and working in partnership with them to ensure wait times are reduced so these men can leave this horrible affliction in their past. However these attempts have been met with a very curt “no”.

 

“Until such times as the NHS wants to work in partnership with us at Ever Clinic, we are happy to welcome patients on a private basis for treatment.”

 

ENDS

Release Date – May 2023