Centres announced as part of government plans for 160 community-based diagnostic facilities by 2025
A network of 160 community diagnostic centres are planned across England by 2025, increasing local access to checks, scans, and other tests
Seven new community diagnostic centres (CDCs) will open to help bust the COVID backlogs, diagnose patients more quickly, and meet future demands on the NHS, Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, announced this week.
The one-stop shops will offer a range of diagnostic checks, scans, and tests closer to home, helping to relieve pressure on hospitals as winter approaches.
Patients will be referred by a GP referral and can get their symptoms checked and receive a potentially-life-saving diagnosis for a range of conditions such as cancer, heart, and lung disease more quickly.
So far, 92 centres have already opened in a variety of settings, from football stadiums to shopping centres – carrying out over 1.7 million tests.
These form part of the Government’s ambition to roll out 160 community diagnostic centres across the country by 2025 to deliver nine million tests, checks, and scans a year, with the programme backed by £2.3billion of diagnostics investment.
CDCs have been found to reduce the number of hospital visits and waiting times for patients by diverting people away from hospitals – so hospitals can focus on treating urgent patients while the diagnostic centres focus on tackling the backlog for tests and checks.
The work of these diagnostic centres, some in convenient spots including shopping centres, are excellent examples of the innovative work being done across the health service to ensure patients get the tests and checks they need as quickly as possible
They are also more convenient for patients and more efficient, with patients less likely to have their tests cancelled.
Barclay said: “Since taking on the role of Health and Social Care Secretary, I have been focused on clearing the COVID backlog and waiting times.
“Community diagnostic centres are a vital part of our plan to transform the way we deliver tests, scans, and X-rays and ultimately reduce waiting times for patients.
“Along with speeding up diagnosis times, they will also help tackle health disparities – ensuring that people get treated as quickly as possible no matter where they live, with new centres opening from Essex to Manchester.”
The new CDCs will be rolled out in Eltham, south east London; Lancashire; Leigh in Greater Manchester; St Albans; and Willesden and Wembley in north west London.
NHS national director of elective recovery, Sir James Mackey, said: “These seven ‘one-stop shops’ are the next step in our elective recovery plan and a welcome addition to the 92 existing community diagnostic centres, which have already delivered more than 1.7 million tests and checks in just over a year.
“Our elective recovery plan set out how the NHS will deliver nine million more tests and checks a year by 2025 and the work of these diagnostic centres, some in convenient spots including shopping centres, are excellent examples of the innovative work being done across the health service to ensure patients get the tests and checks they need as quickly as possible.”
The Finchley Memorial Hospital CDC opened in north London in August 2021 and now offers patients two MRI scanners along with two obstetric ultrasound machines.
Community diagnostic centres are a vital part of our plan to transform the way we deliver tests, scans, and X-rays and ultimately reduce waiting times for patients
Staff carry out a range of scans, blood tests, and other cardiology and respiratory services – with more than 50,000 tests so far delivered.
And, in Barnsley, a CDC has been constructed in the Glass Works shopping centre as part of the town’s urban regeneration project.
Thanks to its public transport links, patients from more-disadvantaged areas have improved access to diagnostic services – including breast screening.
As part of the selection process, the Government worked closely with the NHS and invited bids from various regions. Analysis was then carried out to determine where they would be most beneficial in reducing waiting lists and tackling health inequalities.
The news of the seven planned new clinics comes after Barclay last week announced that more than 50 new surgical hubs will be opening to offer hundreds of thousands more patients quicker access to procedures.
Backed by £1.5billion in government funding, they will provide at least 100 more operating theatres and over 1,000 beds – delivering almost two million extra routine operations over the next three years.