Community 'Diagnostic Hubs' proposed for non-COVID conditions
A new report composed by Professor Sir Mike Richards at the request of NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens has put forward recommendations for diagnostic hubs at the community level for future diagnostic procedures. The report proposes the establishment of ‘one stop shops’ for diagnostics in the UK. These would be COVID-free zones, where a range of diagnostics could be carried out together to benefit patient health at the local level. In terms of location, free spaces in high streets or retail parks could serve as potential opportunities for people to access the services close to home. Prof Richard’s report has been commissioned by the NHS in order to review diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Services at the sites could include a focus on MRI and CT scans along with respiratory and heart health diagnostic checks. Diagnostic checks could be separated between elective ones and emergency procedures in order to reduce hold-ups in wait time and assure patient safety in the centres. The report also recommended that access to blood tests in the community should also be expanded so that people can give samples close to their homes, at least six days a week, without having to go to hospital. An update of testing machines would be necessary to be able to run the centres, along with adequate staffing and investment in other facilities.
Among the procedures which were highlighted in the text for development in these hubs were heart and lung diagnostics, which would need to be expanded due to their close correlation with COVID-19 outcomes. More staff would also need training to carry out colonoscopies. Other recommendations include a significant expansion of imaging staff to be able to meet requirements for wider diagnostics. This could mean training of 2,000 additional radiologists and 4,000 radiographers as well as other support staff.
Commenting on the diagnostic hub proposals, the report’s author Prof Sir Mike Richards said that: “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.”