A total of 6.1 million tests, scans, and health checks have been conducted in community diagnostic centres (CDCs) as of November 2023 since their introduction in July 2021, according to the UK Department of Health and Social Care.
These centres, established under the £2.3bn CDC programme, have contributed to reducing waiting lists and expediting diagnoses and treatments.
This initiative represents the largest-ever central cash injection into the MRI and CT scanning capacity of the NHS.
Established in settings including shopping centres, university campuses, and football stadiums, 141 CDCs are already operational, including four temporary sites.
Of these 141 CDCs, 40 were opened ahead of schedule.
This decentralised approach is claimed to provide patients with a broader array of diagnostic tests closer to home, thereby helping them with increased choices in treatment locations and methods.
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Furthermore, it is said to minimise the necessity for hospital visits and facilitates quicker access to life-saving care.
Patients are referred to CDCs via general practitioners. Healthcare staff at the CDC identify various health conditions through advanced diagnostic equipment such as CT scanners and MRI scanners.
The CDC programme has led government to meet its targets of virtually eliminating waits of over two years, and has cut 18-month waits by over 90% from the peak recorded in September 2021.
In November 2023, an additional £800m, which is a combination of reprioritised and new funding, was allocated to address the impact of industrial action.
Furthermore, the government is boosting the capacity of the independent sector to further reduce waiting times for NHS patients.
Several CDCs are operated by the independent sector but are made available to NHS patients under the programme.
The programme aims to open a total 160 CDCs by March 2025, with many expected to open ahead of schedule.
NHS medical director for transformation Dr Vin Diwakar said: “Thanks to the hard work of staff, latest data shows the NHS has delivered a record 25.9 million tests and checks over the past year – two million more than the previous 12 months, and almost 50% more than a decade ago – helping ensure patients get the all-clear or diagnosis, so they can be treated for a range of conditions as quickly as possible.
“Millions of these tests have been performed at one of our 141 ‘one stop shops’ open across the country, situated in locations most convenient for patients, so I would encourage anyone with a health concern to come forward and get checked – it could save your life.”