Tens of thousands of people across the country be able to access tests in the community more quickly, the government has said, as it is rolling out 19 new diagnostic centres with an aim to perform 1.1 million tests, checks and scans every year.
The 19 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) will open later this year, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said, and will add to the network of 92 such centres that already exist.
The network has carried out an additional three million, tests, checks and scans since July 2021 as part of the NHS’s post-Covid ‘catch-up’ plan, the DHSC said.
The CDCs, backed by £2.3bn in government funding, are based in locations such as shopping centres and football stadiums, so allowing people to access tests more quickly.
The CDCs house a range of equipment including MRI, CT, X-ray and ultrasound scanners and offer services including blood tests or heart rhythm and blood pressure monitoring.
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The 19 approved new centres will be rolled out across the country, including in Milton Keynes, Nottingham and Dorset. Once referred by a GP, pharmacist or hospital, patients can access CDCs in their local area to get any concerning symptoms checked out.
Twelve of them are what are called ‘spoke’ sites, in that they can deliver more diagnostic services in addition to a standard CDC.
The CDCs are normally sited on commercial estate or existing non-acute NHS estate, such as community healthcare settings.
Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “Rapid diagnosis offers reassurance to patients, reduces waiting lists, and, crucially, saves lives.
“CDCs have been fundamental to this effort, delivering over 3 million extra tests which are helping to diagnose conditions from cancer to lung disease more quickly across the country.
The new centres will take us even further, utilising cutting-edge MRI, CT and X-ray machines to transform the way we deliver care closer to people’s homes helping tens of thousands of people.”
The aim is that the new centres will help the NHS to deliver an extra nine million tests a year by 2025 – an increase in capacity of more than a quarter on pre-pandemic levels.
The new centres will take the total of approved CDCs – including those already operational and those still set to be rolled out – to 143, the DHSC said.