Diagnostic centres carry out more than three million tests in England

Diagnostic centres carry out more than three million tests in England thumbnail


ommunity diagnostic centres have carried out more than three million potentially lifesaving checks, tests and scans in England, the Government said.

Once referred by a GP, pharmacist or hospital, patients can access community diagnostic centres (CDCs) in their area to get any concerning symptoms checked out, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The centres have been promoted to bolster existing services in England so people can get tests or scans done more quickly, closer to home and reduce unnecessary hospital trips.

DHSC said 92 operational CDCs have performed at least three million tests, checks and scans since July 2021.

The department added that the centres have helped in “virtually eliminating” the number of patients waiting over two years for treatment and cutting 18-month waits by more than 50%.

DHSC announced on Monday that 19 new CDCs will be opened this year, which it says will help tens of thousands of patients across England.

It is understood the additional centres will perform 1.1 million tests, checks and scans every year.

According to analysis from The King’s Fund in October last year, just one in five operational CDCs were actually “in the community”.

Ministerial pledges to bring NHS diagnostic facilities “closer to where people live” were called into question after it emerged that 47 of the 92 up-and-running CDCs were in an existing healthcare facility.

The King’s Fund found that only 17 of the sites were in the “community” – such as in shopping centres or football stadiums – while others were on existing hospital or GP surgery sites.

Rapid diagnosis offers reassurance to patients, reduces waiting lists, and, crucially, saves lives

At the time, a DHSC spokesman said: “All centres are located on sites that are accessible for patients, to level up access to services and reduce waiting lists. This includes shopping centres and football stadiums but also GP and hospital sites.”

DHSC said on Monday that CDCs have already helped reduce NHS backlogs, adding that the centres delivered approximately 5% of all diagnostic activity in November last year.

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.

The Government has committed £2.3 billion for the launch of up to 160 of the centres by March 2025.

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “Rapid diagnosis offers reassurance to patients, reduces waiting lists and, crucially, saves lives.

These 19 new centres will boost access for tens of thousands more patients and build on the great work of NHS staff in recovering services

“CDCs have been fundamental to this effort, delivering over three 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.”

NHS national director of elective recovery, Sir James Mackey, said: “The NHS’s ambitious elective recovery plan, published just over a year ago, had these innovative one-stop shops at its heart.

“Since then they have played a key role in helping us virtually eliminate the number of people waiting more than two years for treatment and keeping the NHS on track to do the same for people waiting over 18 months by the end of April, with the centres – often based in convenient places such as in shopping centres, high streets and community hospitals – now having delivered an incredible three million tests and checks.

“These 19 new centres will boost access for tens of thousands more patients and build on the great work of NHS staff in recovering services, helping the NHS deliver an extra nine million tests a year by 2025 – an increase in capacity of more than a quarter on pre-pandemic levels.”

The CDCs come as part of the elective recovery plan set out by the Government and the NHS to recover NHS services and give patients greater control over their own health.

Dozens of new surgical spaces are also being created to bring down waiting times, DHSC added.

About 780,000 additional surgeries and outpatient appointments will be provided at 37 new surgical hubs, 10 expanded existing hubs and 81 new theatres.

The Government has set up an elective recovery taskforce which will help deliver the recovery plan.