£3m boost for community diagnostic services in Berkshire

Published: 25-Oct-2021

Better facilities, better equipment and more staff will boost diagnostic capabilities at West Berkshire Community Hospital

Patients in Berkshire West will benefit from enhanced health testing services thanks to a £3m Government cash injection for facilities, equipment, and staff to support an expansion of diagnostic services at West Berkshire Community Hospital (WBCH).

The Government recently announced that 40 diagnostic community centres will come on stream across the country.

And, in the case of the WBCH, which already offers a range of diagnostic services, chemotherapy, and renal dialysis; the funding will enable the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust team to expand the service, add to the equipment on site, and create new jobs.

The establishment of the centres was recommended by Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who identified a need to create diagnostic centres to bring together many healthcare tests on one site.

This is aligned with the NHS Long Term Plan which looks to provide more services closer to people’s homes and tackle health inequalities.

Diagnostic community centres provide a one-stop-shop service offering checks, scans, and tests.

The aims are to provide:

  • Earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster, and more-direct access to the full range of diagnostic tests needed to understand patient symptoms including breathlessness, cancer, and ophthalmology
  • A reduction in hospital visits which will help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission
  • A reduction in waits by diverting patients away from hospitals, allowing them to treat urgent patients, while the community diagnostic centres focus on tackling the backlog
  • A contribution to the NHS’s net zero carbon ambitions by providing multiple tests at one visit, reducing the number of patient journeys and helping to cut carbon emissions and air pollution

Andrew Statham, director of strategy transformation and partnerships for Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “we welcome this investment in the diagnostic services already running at West Berkshire Community Hospital.

“Not only will it provide easier and greater access to high levels of testing and treatment, it will create new jobs and strengthen our working relationships with key health and social care partners and allow us to bring forward the replacement of some of our diagnostic equipment enhancing what we can deliver.

“This investment will help us progress our work on tackling waiting lists and also help ease pressure on our acute hospital site at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

“The enhancement of facilities at WBCH, including extended opening hours, will help improve access to diagnostic services.

“We know that the number of people currently waiting for elective surgery is, in part, linked to health inequalities, so this increase in diagnostic capacity will really help with our work to address issues of inequality in access and outcomes.”

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