NHS England has announced plans for diagnostic centres to be introduced to the high street to provide greater access across the country.
The new proposal is aimed to support people waiting for a CT or MRI scan, by having another option on the high street.
NHS England said “community diagnostic hubs or ‘one stop shops’ should be created across the country, away from hospitals, so that patients can receive life-saving checks close to their homes. The centres could be set up in free space on the high street or retail parks.”
Professor Sir Mike Richards was commissioned by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens to review diagnostic services. Professor Richards said that these new services would be ‘covid free’, and that the need for radical change has been further amplified by the pandemic.
The report added that any new services will need to be implemented over time, requiring significant investment in facilities, equipment and workforce alongside replacing outdated testing machines.
- Tests for emergency and elective diagnostics should be separate, to reduce hold-ups for patients
- CT scanning capacity should be doubled over the next five years to meet increasing demand and to match other developed countries
- Tests for heart and lung diseases need to be enhanced given the link to coronavirus
- More staff need to be trained to undertake screening colonoscopies
- The imaging workforce needs to be expanded as soon as possible with 2,000 additional radiologists and 4,000 radiographers as well as other support staff
Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “The pandemic has brought into sharper focus the need to overhaul the way our diagnostic services are delivered. While these changes will take time and investment in facilities and more staff, it is the right moment to seize the opportunities to assist recovery and renewal of the NHS.”
“Not only will these changes make services more accessible and convenient for patients but they will help improve outcomes for patients with cancer and other serious conditions.”