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New Community Diagnostic Centres set to support thousands of Northants patients.

An artist’s impression of what the Corby Community Diagnostic Hub could look like.

An artist’s impression of what the Corby Community Diagnostic Hub could look like.

Thousands of local people who need diagnostic tests like MRI, CT, and ultrasound scans, are set to benefit from two new Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) planned for Northamptonshire.

 Earlier this year the Government announced multi-million-pound plans for new CDCs across the country to help tackle diagnostic waiting time backlogs and speed-up vital care for patients. 

 Northamptonshire is set to receive nearly £17m in funding to establish two CDCs – one in Corby and one in Kings Heath, Northampton.

 The aim is to get both CDCs up and running by early 2024 and in the meantime additional tests are being done through mobile units to start to impact on waiting times for routine tests.

 The CDCs in Northamptonshire will be run by the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group – which is a hospital group formed of Kettering and Northampton general hospitals.

 The work will be overseen by NHS Northamptonshire Integrated Care Board – which is responsible for health and social care in Northamptonshire – and has involved other partners.

 Director of Strategy for the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group, Polly Grimmett, said: “We are delighted that the bids to establish two CDCs in Northamptonshire have been successful and this will be very good news for patients who need diagnostic tests.

“The new facilities will be additional to the diagnostic testing currently done within Kettering and Northampton general hospitals and in some of our other community sites.

 “At the moment, like most acute hospitals in the country, our two hospitals are working very hard to address waiting times for diagnostic tests.

 “Our staff are putting on extra clinics, some of them at weekends, and we are also using extra capacity provided by specialist companies to help us reduce waiting times for routine tests.

 “While it is important to remember that urgent tests for patients with suspected cancer or other serious conditions have been undertaken throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – the new CDCs will help us to make significant impacts in the waits for routine tests and scans.

 “The CDC will operate for 12 hours a day and for seven-days-a-week. The additional appointments will help support GPs and hospital staff in diagnosing many potentially life-threatening, or debilitating conditions, at an earlier point. In turn this will help us treat conditions and reduce the risk of emergency attendances in hospital.

 “It will also help us to reduce the stress and uncertainty patients face while waiting for the more specialised diagnostic tests like CT and MRI to determine what is wrong with them.”

 Toby Sanders, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Integrated Care Board, said: “We are delighted the county’s bid for CDCs has been supported.

 “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a very significant impact on NHS services making it harder for hospitals, and other health services, to keep up with the growing demand for tests.

 “In addition, Northamptonshire is one of the fastest growing counties in England so – even without the Covid-19 pandemic – investing in diagnostic test capacity would have been a key priority for us.

 “These new centres will be an exciting new way of providing diagnostic tests to our local community closer to their homes. They will speed-up people’s access to tests and play a very important part in the treatment of many medical and surgical conditions.”

Patient Peter West has a CT scan at a mobile unit being used in advance of the new build.

The Corby CDC – Is to be based at Willowbrook Health Centre site, Cottingham Road and will include:

  • Key scanning technologies include CT, MRI, with increased appointment times for the existing Ultrasound and Plain X-Ray
  • Physiological measures including Echocardiography, and more appointments for blood tests.

The Kings Heath CDC – Will use some of the existing health centre, with facilities extended as needed. It will deliver all the same tests as those at Corby except for x-ray. The Trust is investigating how it can further develop other forms of testing at this location.

It is expected that the two new CDCs, once fully operational, will be able to deliver at least 90,000 additional tests each year including 16,000 additional MRI scans and 24,000 additional CT scans.

The NHS standard for diagnostic waiting times is six weeks but now waiting times for routine non-urgent specialist tests such as MRI and CT in Northamptonshire can be up to 20 weeks for MRI and 13 weeks for CT, with shorter waits for other tests. 

It is hoped that the new CDCs – along with continued investment, upgrades, and maintenance in existing equipment and diagnostic resources – will start to rapidly reduce waiting times for these procedures.

The aim – in line with a national NHS ambition – is to have 95% of patents waiting no more than 6 weeks for a diagnostic test by end of March 2025 with many simple tests performed in much less than that.

For Northamptonshire we aim to initially get down 85% of patients being seen within 6 weeks by end of March 2024.

Posted on Monday 3rd July 2023
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