Diagnostics considered by Health and Social Care Committee
As part of its ‘Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond’ inquiry, the Health and Social Care Select Committee held an oral evidence session this week. A range of topics were covered at the event, including testing and PPE, resumption of elective care, diagnostics and mental health. Sir Simon Stevens of NHS England was present as a witness and made a series of points regarding the ways the NHS could expand its diagnostic capacity. This expansion is especially relevant to histopathology and radiology, and could include the use of FIT testing, dedicated diagnostic suites and a ‘Nightingale’ approach to diagnostics.
Further contributions were made a by a selection of health leaders, including Chris Hopson of NHS Providers and Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England. Mr Hopson stated that the development of dedicated diagnostic could ensure that non-COVID patients could be seen, whilst only COVID-19 patients attend hospital.
In terms of NHS staff testing, Professor Powis advised there is not enough evidence yet in this area. It is expected there will be significant extra lab capacity by September and NHS studies on the necessary regularity of testing are ongoing. PPE supply has greatly improved and supply will be increased in advance of winter. Elective care numbers have dropped nationally, with 725,000 fewer elective appointments between April and June.
Capacity was at 25% during the peak in April. Independent experts are being communicated with by the NHS to identify specific needs for BAME staff and HR measure analyses are being compiled to investigate different staff experiences. The inquiry will continue and BIVDA will ensure any relevant updates are provided.