NHS tests and scans will be offered at football stadiums and shopping centres in a bid to tackle the huge backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The health service is launching 40 new “one-stop shop” diagnostic centres across England, where a wide range of health checks will be carried out following referrals from GPs.
Where will the hubs be based?
The hubs will be set up in existing buildings across the country, including a repurposed retail outlet in Poole, the Falmer Stadium and The Glass Works shopping centre in Barnsley.
Each site will be staffed by a team of health professionals, including nurses and radiographers, and will be open seven days a week.
The scheme, backed by a £350 million Government investment, aims to provide around 2.8 million scans in the first year of operation.
While the number of cancer tests has now returned to levels seen before March 2020, the NHS said the centres will help to cut the huge backlog for treatment that has built up over the pandemic.
It is also hoped that the hubs will help doctors to make earlier diagnoses for patients by providing more direct access to a full range of diagnostic tests, while minimising hospital visits and the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
The launch should cut down waiting times for patients and help to meet emissions targets by offering multiple tests in one visit, meaning patients do not have to make several journeys.
When will the hubs launch?
The new health hubs will start offering services over the next six months, although some are already up and running.
It is expected that all 40 sites will be fully operational by March 2022.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Tackling waiting lists will require new and more innovative ways of delivering the services people need.
“That is why we’re making it easier and more convenient to get checked.
“Our new Community Diagnostic Centres will bring those crucial tests closer to home including in the communities that need them most.
“They will help enable earlier diagnosis, allowing us to catch cancer and other issues as quickly as possible, and save more lives.”
The centres are one of the recommendations from Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who conducted a review of diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published last year.
He added: “The pandemic brought into sharper focus the need to overhaul the way we deliver diagnostic services and so I am absolutely delighted to see one of the key recommendations of my report becoming a reality for patients so quickly.
“I have no doubt that many people will benefit from these new NHS Community Diagnostic Centres, bringing together many tests in one convenient place.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.