First facility opens in Finchley, helping to relieve COVID-19 backlog
The Government has announced funding for the development of 40 community diagnostic hubs across England
Community Health Partnerships is facilitating work to boost the provision of life-saving checks and diagnostics in community settings.
The Government-owned estates improvement body recently opened one of the first new community diagnostic centres at Finchley Memorial Hospital in Barnet.
It is one of 40 facilities planned across England to boost diagnostic capacity and provide patients with quicker and more-convenient access to important tests for conditions such as cancer and heart and lung disease.
Services include CT, MRI, ultrasound, and ophthalmology scans, blood tests, cardiology and respiratory tests, and vascular thermography.
The Finchley hub is open 12 hours a day, seven days a week and, once fully operational, is expected to provide appointments for 1,200 patients a week, helping to ensure they receive a diagnosis and any required treatment more quickly.
Finchley Memorial Hospital and the Tessa Jowell Health Centre, both in London, are part of the ‘early adopters’ series of centres being developed, with CHP health centres in the Midlands and North East also being assessed for inclusion.
And they will be key in supporting the NHS in its efforts to reduce the backlog of treatment which has built up since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine out of 10 of CHP’s Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) buildings are in areas of high health needs, making access to timely testing critical to reducing the potential for serious and life-threatening conditions.
They were also designed to be flexible enough to cater for the future needs of the NHS, making them good candidates for the newly-created diagnostic centres.
At Finchley, there are already mobile CT and MRI scanners on site and work has started to assess the feasibility of installing a second MRI scanner permanently inside the building itself.
The development was led by North Central London Integrated Care System with the lead trust being the Royal Free London (RFL).
CHP and the North London Estates Partnerships LIFT Company worked with the commissioners and providers to design the facility.
And the changes had the added benefit of reducing void space in the building and providing accommodation for administrative support.
Alex Pinches, director of operations for RFL group clinical services, and senior responsible owner for the project, said: “This new centre allows us to offer key diagnostic services across north London.
“It has been truly inspiring to see how NHS partners in north central London have worked collaboratively to ensure we can provide this service, which will help deliver treatments to our patients sooner.”
CHP London regional director, Philippa Robinson, added: “Working with our partners, we have taken a flexible and speedy approach to adapting the building in order to accommodate the new services and ensure that care can be offered efficiently, quickly, and locally to support improved access and health outcomes for patients.
“We are looking forward to using the experience from this and other projects to support other similar initiatives across the country.”