Patients in South Yorkshire are set to benefit from improved diagnostic facilities after £3million of capital funding has been confirmed to develop two new Community Diagnostic Centres.

The first year of funding has been successfully secured by South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYBICS) for diagnostic centres, which it is hoped will enable people to take tests faster, receive a diagnosis earlier and get onto their treatment journeys sooner.

Two initial sites have been identified for the first year of funding, The Glass Works in Barnsley and Montagu Hospital in Mexborough, with bidding plans already underway for future funding to develop further centres across South Yorkshire.

The Glassworks site is set to include Ultrasound, X-ray, Breast Screening (Mammography), Phlebotomy, echocardiography and DEXA scanning, while the Montagu Hospital site will include CT and MRI services to complement the diagnostics already delivered at the site along with phlebotomy, point of care testing and physiological measurement.

The funding has been secured as part of a national programme to help the NHS further accelerate diagnostic activity and recover services from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. It is a share of a £350m national pot to create 40 new Community Diagnostic Centres announced by the Government and NHS today (Friday 1 October). The new one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests will provide a combined 2.8 million scans in their first full year of operation.

Professor Des Breen, Medical Director for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, said: “When people are unwell and experiencing ongoing signs or symptoms, their doctor might request diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out specific conditions or diseases. The Community Diagnostic Centres will be centres in convenient locations, often closer to where people live or easier to get to than larger hospital sites, that will provide diagnostic testing.

“The aspiration is that in the long term patients will be able to visit a local facility and have all (or as many as possible of) their tests done in the same place and on the same day. This would prevent patients from having to move backwards and forwards across healthcare sites as much as they currently do, from NHS site to NHS site, from specialist to specialist.

“Overall, this is a huge step forward in improving the patient experience in diagnosis, and we’re really excited to get plans underway for these initial sites while also planning more for the region.”

Community Diagnostic Centres (or Hubs) were outlined as a recommendation in a review led by Sir Mike Richards in October 2020. The Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal review recommended several projects that could be delivered to improve diagnostics across England, and Community Diagnostic Centres were put forward to increase diagnostic capacity, reduce waiting times and support the delivery of the commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Des continued: “We have an exciting opportunity to make a real difference with these hubs and ultimately transform the diagnostics process for patients. We can’t wait to get started!”

Bob Kirton, Chief Delivery Officer for Barnsley Hospital said: “The Community Diagnostic Centre represents a significant advance in how we will deliver diagnostic services for the people of Barnsley.  We have worked very closely with our health and care partners to develop a service model that aims to  both improve the experience of our patients and reduce wait times and we are really looking forward to delivering diagnostic services in this fantastic new venue in Barnsley town centre.”

Dr Tim Noble, Executive Medical Director at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH), said: “We are delighted that Montagu Hospital has been selected as one of the sites to host a Community Diagnostic Hub within South Yorkshire. This new facility will allow us to offer an enhanced service to our patients, conducting a range of tests in one place ensuring individuals are diagnosed as quickly and efficiently as possible, and, if required, treatment started swiftly, giving local people the best chance of a positive outcome.”  

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