Community-based diagnostic centres network to be set-up across England

40 new community diagnostic centres are set to open across England in a range of settings from local shopping centres to football stadiums.

The new one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests will be backed by a £350 million investment from government to provide around 2.8 million scans in the first full year of operation.

The centres will help to achieve earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster, and more direct access to the full range of diagnostic tests, a reduction in hospital visits which will help to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission and a reduction in waiting times by diverting patients away from hospitals.

GPs will be able to refer patients to a centre so they can access life-saving checks closer to home and be diagnosed for a range of conditions, rather than travelling to hospital. The centres will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff including nurses and radiographers and are open 7 days a week.

The new centres are being rolled out in a host of accessible settings, including:

  • the Glass Works in Barnsley – the new centre will be part of the town centre redevelopment with access to 670 parking spaces and will deliver ultrasound, X-ray, breast screening, phlebotomy and bone density scans

  • Falmer Community Stadium, home of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club – this will be one of 4 centres across the region serving a population of 1.7 million. The centres will provide additional MRI, CT, ultrasound and X-ray services

  • a Community Diagnostic Village in a repurposed retail outlet in Poole – it will bring together primary, community and secondary care as well as local health support teams to serve the population of Dorset, particularly those in areas of known deprivation

Amanda Pritchard NHS chief executive"Rapid diagnosis will save lives and these one stop shops for checks, scans and tests in the heart of local communities will not only make services more accessible and convenient for patients but they will also help us to improve outcomes for patients," said Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive.

The centres will begin providing services over the next 6 months, with some already up and running, and will be fully operational by March 2022.

The centres are one of the recommendations from Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who conducted a review of diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published last year.

The government recently announced an extra £5.4 billion to the NHS to respond to COVID-19 over the next 6 months, taking total extra COVID-19 funding to health and care services to over £34 billion this year alone. It builds on the new Health and Social Care Levy, which will see funding rise by a record £36 billion over the next 3 years.

This is on top of a further £36 billion for health and social care across the UK thanks to the Health and Care Levy, which will include £8 billion ring-fenced to tackle backlogs and help the NHS deliver an extra 9 million checks, scans and operations for patients across the country from 2022 onwards.

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