Oldham community diagnostic centre plan pushes forward

One-stop-shop will bring diagnostics into communities to enable earlier detection and treatment of disease

The new facility is one of 40 similar centres planned for England. Image, the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

Patients from Oldham and the surrounding area will benefit from earlier testing closer to home, thanks to £4.5m of investment in a new community diagnostic centre which is due to open in the spring.

A partnership between the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, Oldham Council, and NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group has resulted in the team receiving a share of a £350m national investment fund to create one of 40 new community diagnostic centres across England.

The one-stop-shops for checks, scans, and tests will provide a combined 2.8 million scans across England in their first full year of operation, with an estimated 30,000 patients seen at the Oldham facility alone.

Barney Schofield, director of planning and delivery at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospital and community services in Oldham as well as Bury, Rochdale, and Salford, said: “Our local teams have already made great progress in ramping scans and tests back up to pre-pandemic levels, and this new investment will help us go even further – while also providing a more-convenient option for patients.”

“The community diagnostic centre in Oldham will be one of the very first in the region and one of the most-innovative schemes in England, providing local patients with some of the most-advanced diagnostic technology available to the NHS.

It will help to make diagnostic tests more convenient, with shorter waits and give us better ability to deliver multiple tests on the same day, away from our main hospital sites.

Ultimately our ambition is to diagnose disease at an earlier stage of progression, where chances of successful treatment are improved.”

The announcement marks the first stage of delivering the NCA’s wider community diagnostics strategy, with additional hubs being developed across its Salford footprint, which will deliver imaging, pathology, and cardio-respiratory services.

In the first phase of the scheme, the Oldham site will be able to provide a full range of diagnostic imaging technology and lung tests.

And, through collaboration with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the facility will also provide patients with access to PET-CT scans, which they currently have to travel to either south Manchester or Wigan to access.

It is estimated that more than 30,000 patients a year will use the Oldham facility, with a number of benefits being delivered, including:

  • Earlier diagnosis of both cancer and cardio-respiratory disease, resulting in improved outcomes for patients
  • Shorter waiting times and more-convenient access for patients
  • Transformed care pathways, enabling patients to have multiple tests on the same day in the same place, bringing a ‘one stop shop’ model of care to communities

    An overall reduction in hospital visits, helping to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and contribute to the NHS’s net-zero ambitions by providing multiple tests at one visit, reducing the number of patient journeys, and cutting carbon emissions and air pollution

Chris Brookes, Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust interim chief executive, said: "Rapid diagnosis will save lives and these one-stop shops for checks, scans, and tests in the heart of our local communities will not only make services more accessible and convenient for patients, but they will also help us to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and other serious conditions, ultimately sparing more patients and families the pain and trauma of disease.

“Our teams across the NCA have continued to provide routine care, throughout the pandemic, alongside treating thousands of seriously-ill COVID patients in hospital, and the rollout of the community diagnostic centre in Oldham will help us to spot problems sooner, when they are easier to treat.”

Mike Barker, accountable officer for NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “This fits with our ongoing aspiration to bring services out of hospital and into the community wherever possible.

“We look forward to working with local GPs and patients to make sure we get the maximum benefit from the new Hub.”

The preferred site, at Salmon Fields in Royton, Oldham, is subject to formal planning, with an application due to be made within weeks and approval expected over the next two months.

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