NHS Covid backlog to be tackled with 40 new sites including in Preston, Blackpool and Cumbria

Millions of people in England will now be able to get NHS tests and scans at pop-up venues including football stadiums and shopping centres, including sites in Lancashire and Cumbria.

The health service is launching 40 new “one-stop shop” diagnostic centres across England in a bid to fight the mounting Covid backlog.

Across Lancashire and southern Cumbria, sites have been confirmed at Westmorland General Hospital; Rossendale Primary Health Care Centre; Preston Healthport and Whitegate Drive Health Centre in Blackpool.

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Backed by £350m in government money, a wide range of health care checks will be carried out following referrals from GPs, and aim to provide about £2.8million scans in the first year of operation.

Some of the sites will be in hospitals, including the one in Kendal, while others will be in more eye-catching venues. They include a repurposed retail outlet in Poole, the Falmer Stadium – home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club – and The Glass Works shopping centre in Barnsley.

Also included is the Devon Exeter Nightingale Hospital, in a former Homebase store, and a location by the quayside in Gloucester. Hubs will be manned by teams of professionals including nurses and radiographers and will be open seven days a week.

While the number of cancer tests has returned to levels seen before March 2020, the NHS said the centres will help tackle the backlog that has built up during the pandemic.

It is also hoped they will help doctors make earlier diagnoses through a more direct approach to a full range of diagnostic tests, reduce hospital visits and therefore the risk of Covid transmission, cut down waiting times, and help meet emissions targets by providing multiple tests at one visit and reducing the number of journeys patients have to make.

The centres will begin providing services over the next six months, with some already up and running, and will be fully operational by March 2022.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Tackling waiting lists will require new and more innovative ways of delivering the services people need. That is why we’re making it easier and more convenient to get checked. Our new Community Diagnostic Centres will bring those crucial tests closer to home including in the communities that need them most. They will help enable earlier diagnosis, allowing us to catch cancer and other issues as quickly as possible, and save more lives.”

The centres are one of the recommendations from Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who conducted a review of diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published last year.

He said: “The pandemic brought into sharper focus the need to overhaul the way we deliver diagnostic services and so I am absolutely delighted to see one of the key recommendations of my report becoming a reality for patients so quickly. I have no doubt that many people will benefit from these new NHS Community Diagnostic Centres, bringing together many tests in one convenient place.”

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “NHS staff have continued to provide routine care, throughout the pandemic, alongside treating around 450,000 seriously ill Covid patients in hospital, and the roll-out of these community diagnostic centres will help us to spot problems sooner, when they are easier to treat.”

Full list of 40 areas to get diagnostic centres

  • Clacton (East of England)
  • New QEII Hospital (Hertfordshire and West Essex) (East of England)
  • Finchley Memorial Hospital (London)
  • Queen Mary’s Hospital (South West London) (London)
  • Mile End Hospital (London)
  • Barking Community Hospital (London)
  • Tees Valley (North East)
  • Blaydon (North East)
  • Central ICP (Cumbria and North East) (North East)
  • North Tyneside (North East)
  • Penrith (North West)
  • Cheshire &Merseyside and Lancashire South Cumbria (CD&M and LSC) (North West)
  • Manchester and Trafford (North West)
  • Northern Care Alliance – Oldham (North West)
  • Bolton (North West)
  • Buckinghamshire Oxford and Berkshire West (BOB) (South East)
  • Frimley (South East)
  • St Mary’s Community Hospital (Portsmouth) (South East)
  • HIOW Southampton and SW Hampshire (South East)
  • Surrey Heartlands (South East)
  • CDH Poole Dorset Health Village (South West)
  • Buckland Community Hospital (South East)
  • Sussex Health (South East)
  • CIOS Bodmin (Cornwall/Isles of Scilly) (South West)
  • Devon Exeter Nightingale (South West)
  • BSW BaNES Locality (Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire) (South West)
  • Gloucestershire Quayside (South West)
  • Somerset (South West)
  • Kidderminster Treatment Centre (Herefordshire/Worcestershire) (West Midlands)
  • Coventry & Warwickshire (West Midlands)
  • Washwood Heath (Birmingham and Solihull) (West Midlands)
  • Telford (West Midlands)
  • Corbett (West Midlands)
  • Kings Mill (East Midlands)
  • Grantham (East Midlands)
  • Leicester (East Midlands)
  • Joined Up Derbyshire (East Midlands)
  • Montagu Hospital (South Yorkshire) (Yorkshire & Humber)
  • Barnsley Glassworks (Yorkshire & Humber)
  • Humber Coast and Vale (Yorkshire & Humber)

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