Thousands of patients in Stockton-on-Tees are set to benefit from quicker access to tests, checks and scans - with a new community diagnostic center set to open later this year.
The one-stop-shop will be in the heart of the community inside Castlegate shopping center and will be up and running by winter 2023, with hundreds of patients a day set to receive quicker access to treatment and lifesaving diagnostic tests.
The new center will deliver up to 104,000 potentially lifesaving checks, scans and tests a year when fully operational. The site will provide a number of diagnostic functions including:
- MRI scans;
- CT scans;
- Ultrasound scans;
- Blood tests and;
- Respiratory checks
Diagnostic services, including cancer screening, were impacted by the pandemic. CDCs are helping to get the NHS back on track, ensuring patients get the diagnosis and treatment they need as quickly as possible. In the North East and Yorkshire, 14 CDCs are currently up and running and have delivered more than 257,000 tests, checks and scans. This includes MRI and CT scans, blood tests, and checks for a range of conditions such as cancer, heart and lung disease.
The total number of approved CDCs stands at 134, with 89 operational, of which 14 are based in the North East and Yorkshire. This is over 80% of the government's commitment to open up to 160 CDCs to perform up to 9 million additional tests a year by 2025.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
This new Community Diagnostic Centre will deliver up to 104,000 tests, checks and scans a year from January 2024 at the Castlegate shopping centre in Stockton-on-Tees. It will help thousands of local people get access to life-saving tests conveniently and have the treatment they need as easily as possible.
CDCs are part of our plan to bust the Covid backlog and reduce waiting times, with over 2.7 million checks delivered through these new one-stop shops since July 2021. We're on track to open up to 160 CDCs across the country by 2025 to perform up to nine million additional tests a year."
Easier and quicker access to testing for diseases such as cancer can lead to earlier diagnosis and faster treatment, improving outcomes for patients. New data shows the one-stop shops, backed by £2.3 billion in government funding, have delivered over 2.7 million tests, checks and scans since July 2021, helping to bust the Covid backlogs, speeding up access to services for patients and reducing waiting times. In October CDCs delivered 116% of all diagnostic activity a significant step in achieving the ambition for 40% of diagnoses to take place in CDCs by 2025.
Minister for Health Will Quince said:
We are relentlessly focussed on tackling waiting lists and busting the Covid backlogs; Stockton's new community diagnostic centre will help patients benefit from quicker access to treatment and lifesaving diagnostic tests closer to home.
These new facilities, boasting MRI, CT and X-ray machines will see patients across Teesside receive up to 104,000 potentially lifesaving checks, scans and tests a year at the heart of the community."
The NHS has made progress in tackling the Covid backlogs, virtually eliminating waits of over two years for treatment - the first target in the Elective Recovery Plan - and reducing the number of people waiting 18 months for treatment by more than a half in a year.
The highest recorded number of patients at over 264,000 have had their first consultation appointment following an urgent cancer referral from their GP in November 2022. An increase of around 25,000 from October 2022. Following a decision to treat, over 29,000 patients received their first treatment for cancer in November 2022, the highest on record.
Phil Woolfall, clinical director for radiology at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said:
This is fantastic news for our population across the Tees Valley - this diagnostic centre will help make healthcare readily available for all.
Having access to services including MRI scans and CT scans means patients can receive faster health checks outside of the hospital setting and closer to their homes.
Diagnostic centres have already proven their effectiveness across the country - it's something we and our partners believe is the right one for our population."
David Reaich, deputy chief medical officer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
This new centre will build on the access to diagnostic scans which is already in place for patients at sites across Teesside."
David Gallagher, executive director of place delivery (Tees Valley and Central) for the North East and North Cumbria ICB said:
Earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster and more convenient access to testing we know can significantly improve a patients long-term health. Having a health hub in the heart of Stockton town centre will help up catch cancers and other health issues as quickly as possible, helping us save more lives."
Cancer diagnosis will also be sped up for tens of thousands of women after the government pledged an additional £10 million to provide 29 new NHS breast cancer screening units and nearly 70 life-saving upgrades to services in areas where they are most needed.
The life-saving investment includes 16 new mobile breast screening units, 13 additional static units, 58 live remote access upgrades for existing units and 10 software upgrades to carry out ultrasounds and X-rays.
These new units and service upgrades will allow more women to be screened earlier improving outcomes for patients. Screening will be focused at sites where it is most needed, tackling health disparities and improving diagnosis rates in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.
This investment will also help deliver a more accessible NHS where patients receive care close to home.
This comes as the government has made up to £250 million available to expand emergency departments and discharge thousands of medically fit patients from hospitals into community care settings to free up hospital beds and reduce pressure on the NHS. This is on top of £500 million already announced to speed up hospital discharge, and delivering the equivalent of 7,000 more beds using a mix of hospital and virtual wards.
On top of this, the government is making up to £14.1 billion of funding available for health and social care over the next two years to improve urgent and emergency care and tackle the backlogs - the highest spend on health and social care in any government's history.