Community Diagnostic Centres

Community Diagnostic Centres

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1 July 2022

In summer 2021, we started a conversation about how we could improve diagnostic services across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Currently, most diagnostic services (tests to work out what is causing a person’s illness or symptoms) are provided in hospitals, but it is now recommended that NHS organisations across England move to providing these in Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs). These may also be known as Community Diagnostic Centres or CDHs.

We believe this will give patients across the county access to diagnostic services such as blood tests, scans, x-rays and imaging more quickly and nearer to home. The services provided at these centres would be elective (planned), so would not change how people access diagnostic services if urgent or emergency care is needed. Elective or planned services could include referrals from your GP for blood tests, x-rays or scans to investigate health complaints and concerns.

Key messages

It is recommended that NHS organisations across England move to providing diagnostic services in Community Diagnostic Centres. All health systems are expected to include a network of diagnostic centres as part of their health services offer. The creation of Community Diagnostic Centres was recommended following the Sir Mike Richards’ Review of Diagnostics Capacity

The centres will allow you to access planned diagnostic care nearer to home without the need to attend acute hospital sites. These services would also be separate to urgent diagnostic scans. This means shorter waiting times and a reduced risk of cancellation which can happen when more urgent cases take priority.

Therefore, this would lead to improved patient experience and outcomes.

The CDCs will help achieve the following ambitions:

  • to improve population health outcomes by diagnosing health conditions earlier, faster and more accurately
  • to increase capacity in the diagnostic service by investing in new facilities, equipment and training new staff, contributing to recovery from COVID-19 and reducing pressure on acute hospital sites
  • to improve productivity and efficiency by streamlining the way we provide acute and elective (planned) diagnostic services where it makes sense to do so; redesigning clinical pathways to reduce unnecessary steps, tests or duplication
  • to contribute to reducing health inequalities by ensuring everyone has the same access to care and the same health outcomes
  • to deliver a better diagnostic service and more personalised experience by providing a single point of access to a range of services in the community
  • to support more joined-up care across primary, community and secondary care.

The Integrated Care System (ICS) for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Together We’re Better, is looking at ways to invest in the current services. All the ICS partners want to improve the way diagnostic services are currently provided, where they are provided and how they are accessed.

Community Diagnostic Centres would build on the diagnostic services currently available.

The investment in these sites would improve the way services are currently provided for people with a range of conditions. In the first instance, this would include those with Long Covid, breathlessness and valve disease symptoms.

We would aim to have three or four CDCs across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. We need to develop a five-to ten-year plan for what services would be included in each centre.

The minimum test list includes:

  • Imaging: CT, MRI, Ultrasound, Plain x-ray
  • Physiological measurement: Echocardiography (ECHO), Electrocardiogram (ECG), including 24-hour and longer tape recordings of heart rhythm monitoring, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, oximetry spirometry including reversibility testing for inhaled bronchodilators, Fractional exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO), full lung function tests, blood gas analysis via Point of Care Testing (POCT) and simple field tests (e.g. six-minute walk test)
  • Pathology: Phlebotomy, Point of Care Testing, simple biopsies, NT-Pro BNP, urine testing and D-dimer testing
  • For larger CDCs only: Endoscopy services including gastroscopy, colonoscopy and flexi sigmoidoscopy.

Our involvement work last year included a survey and online discussions. Comments received during this work have been analysed and considered. Thank you to everyone who took part in this conversation; the reports of findings can be read in full.

To keep up to date and find out how you can be involved, visit Get Involved.