The Government will meet its target of opening 160 community diagnostic centers by the start of the year, the Health and Social Care Secretary will announce today. [31 October 2023].
All 160 centers will open by March 2024, a year ahead of the original March 2025 target – speeding up access to potentially life-saving tests and checks.
In a speech to the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, he will confirm the rollout of one-stop shops – supported by a £2.3 billion capital fund – following the hard work of NHS staff and the Government’s efforts to make the most of the independent sector.
Based in a variety of settings including shopping centres, university campuses and football stadiums, 127 of the community health care hubs are already open – with 40 brought forward ahead of schedule. They offer patients a wider range of diagnostic tests closer to home and more choice about where and how they are treated, reducing the need for hospital visits and helping them receive potentially life-saving care sooner.
The program constitutes the largest central cash investment in MRI and CT scanning capacity in the history of the NHS and has already delivered more than five million additional tests, checks and scans across the country. The new centers will provide capacity for a further 9 million by 2025 as part of the government’s plan to rebuild the NHS and services post-pandemic.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
Patients deserve the highest quality of care, and community diagnostic centers have been instrumental in diagnosing illnesses such as cancer and heart disease to ensure faster treatment for patients.
I am thrilled that we will be opening 160 CDCs in a year’s time, which will allow greater access to high-tech scans and diagnostics in communities across England.
This has been made possible by using all the capabilities available to us and drawing on the independent sector – helping us cut waiting lists, which is one of the Government’s top five priorities.”
The government announced three of the final locations, which will serve tens of thousands of patients, are set to open in December 2023. They are:
- Queen Mary’s Sidcup CDC – located in South East London, the facility will offer CT, MRI and ultrasound checks along with blood tests – providing at least 58,000 additional checks once fully operational.
- Halifax CDC – Located in the Broad Street Plaza shopping center in the Yorkshire city, this CDC will offer ultrasound tests, blood tests and heart scans – providing at least 90,000 tests once fully operational.
- Chichester University CDC, Bognor Regis – The facility will offer patients CT and MRI scans, along with ultrasound checks and blood tests, and will provide at least 18,000 additional tests once fully operational.
In total, there are 13 CDC independent sector leads, eight of which are already operational. There are a further 22 CDCs in the NHS estate providing independent sector diagnostic services. They operate like NHS-run CDCs but use the capacity available in the independent sector to allow patients to access additional diagnostic capacity free of charge when needed.
In addition, as the Prime Minister originally announced in May, hundreds of thousands of NHS patients who have been waiting for treatment for more than 40 weeks will today be given the chance to travel to a different hospital as part of the ambitious move to Elective. Recovery plan.
Any patient who has been waiting longer than 40 weeks and does not have an appointment within the next eight weeks will be contacted by the hospital by letter, text or email. 400,000 eligible patients who will then be able to submit their details of how far they are willing to travel.
Thanks to these and broader measures, the government successfully met the first target in its Electoral Recovery Plan to virtually eliminate waits of more than 2 years and reduce waits by 90% from a peak of 18 months in September 2021.
Earlier this year, the Government’s Elective Recovery Taskforce set out a plan to maximize the capacity of the independent sector to treat NHS patients more quickly. Chaired by Health Minister Will Quince and made up of academics and experts from the NHS and private sector, the taskforce looked at ways to go further to clear the COVID-19 backlog and reduce waiting times for patients.
Its recommendations will ensure that patients have the right to receive care from a provider of their choice, systems working together to foster post-pandemic recovery, and monitor the contribution of the independent sector to health service delivery and workforce development.
Earlier this month, the Government invested £200 million to boost resilience in the NHS and help patients get the care they need as soon as possible this winter. The new funding comes after the Prime Minister and the Health and Social Care Secretary met with clinical leaders and NHS chiefs this winter to push ahead with plans to reduce pressure on urgent and urgent care while protecting waiting list targets. In addition, £40 million has been invested to increase social care capacity and improve hospital discharges.
- DHSC and NHSE provide testing to CDC and count access to national funding as open. This may include temporary sites while the full CDC is completed.
- We are now recruiting for an independent Chair of the Choice Panel, who will support patient choice compliance.
- In September, NHS England confirmed that four more CDCs had been approved – two in Wiltshire, one in Thanet and one in Cheshire.