NHS England announced a major overhaul to the way CT, MRI and other diagnostic services are delivered for patients. Community diagnostic hubs, also called “One stop shops”, should be created away from hospitals and across the country so that people can receive vital checks closer to their homes. These centres could be placed in free spaces like in retail parks or on the high street.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens commissioned Professor Sir Mike Richards to review diagnostic services. The proposals made will improve the quality of peoples’ lives and help save lives because conditions like stroke, heart disease and cancer can be better managed and treated.
Leading medical expert Sir Mike stated in his report to NHS England and the NHS Improvement board, that these new services would be “covid free” as tests will be done before any diagnostic checks or routine procedures are made. This approach will make it safer for patients and also speed up the process.
People should have easier access to blood tests by being able to give samples close to their homes without having to go to hospital. The need for radical change has been highlighted by the pandemic.
According to the report, new services will need to be introduced over time which will require significant investment in equipment, facilities and staff and old testing machines would have to be replaced by more modern and accurate technology.
Some of the recommendations include:
- Elective and emergency tests should be separate to reduce the waiting times for patients.
- Over the next five years, CT scanning capacity should be doubled to meet the increasing demand
- Given the link to coronavirus, tests for lung and heart diseases need to be enhanced
- Screening colonoscopies training needs to be given to more staff
- 4,000 radiographers and 2,000 additional radiologists need to be employed to expand the workforce
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.”
Sir Mike also said that major efficiency gains can also be had by reducing costs of MRI and CT scanners by buying larger quantities and same day emergency care can be increased by improving access to diagnosis in A&E departments.