Very soon, local communities might be able to access various diagnostic services including MRI and CT to help save lives and improve people’s quality of life including for cancer, stroke, heart disease and respiratory conditions.
Community diagnostic hubs or ‘one stop shops’ should be created across the country, away from hospitals, so that patients can receive life-saving checks close to their homes. The centres could be set up in free space on the high street or retail parks.
Such an approach would be quicker and safe for patients, so anyone who is in hospital should be able to get a scan on the day. 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.
Professor Sir Mike, who was the first NHS national cancer director and the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said that the need for radical change has been further amplified by the pandemic.
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.”
Alongside improvements in outcomes and convenience for patients, Sir Mike said that there were major efficiency gains to be had, including:
- Reductions in costs of CT and MRI scanners through bulk buying
- Increased use of same day emergency care through improved access to diagnostics in A&E departments
- Shorter hospital stays through tests undertaken on day of request