Male patient having MRI with a male clinician

The Case for Community Diagnostic Centres

Diagnostic activity forms part of over 85% of clinical pathways and underpins so many things. The NHS spends over £6bn a year on over 100 diagnostic services (an estimated 1.5 bn diagnostic tests a year).

Demand for almost all diagnostic services in England was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during the pandemic in 2019/20, a lot of diagnostic services closed down and the NHS started to build up a backlog.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, Professor Sir Mike Richards was commissioned to undertake an independent review of NHS diagnostic services. ‘Diagnostics: Recovery & Renewal’ was published in November 2020. His report held many concerns about the availability of diagnostics in England and how we access and utilise diagnostics effectively and efficiently.

One of the key recommendations of the report was for the establishment of Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs).

Following this report, there has been a significant amount of investment centrally into making sure we can get people diagnosed quickly.

What is a Community Diagnostic Centre?

Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) provide a range of diagnostic tests in community-based settings. Diagnostic services, such as imaging and blood tests are a key part of elective care pathways. CDCs increase capacity and access to tests for patients in local communities, so they can be seen quicker, outside of an acute hospital setting.

By reducing the wait for an appointment, patients can be diagnosed quicker and treated for serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, sooner – improving patient outcomes.

Bringing diagnostic services out of the hospital and into community-based settings makes it more accessible and convenient for patients, as evidence suggests many people don’t like visiting hospitals, especially for routine tests and scans.

The 6 primary reasons why CDCs were set up are:
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