New community testing centres across Surrey Heartlands, as part of national announcement

Patients across Surrey Heartlands will benefit from earlier diagnostic tests closer to home thanks to investment in new testing and monitoring services, as part of a national announcement made on 1st October.

The Surrey Heartlands health and care partnership has secured a share of a £350m national pot which will create 40 new Community Diagnostic Centres across the country.  These new one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests will provide a combined 2.8 million scans in their first full year of operation.  This will help Surrey Heartlands increase local testing availability and meet national waiting times of six weeks or less for routine tests. 

In Surrey Heartlands this investment will be used to develop testing and health monitoring services within a number of GP practices and health centres across the local geography, ensuring access to services closer to where people live.  For example, remote monitoring that allows residents to monitor their condition at home (e.g., blood pressure), with easy reporting to healthcare professionals via the local sites. 

Surrey Heartlands will also use this investment to develop dedicated hubs at Milford and Woking Community hospitals providing X-ray, MRI and CT scanning, alongside services such as audiology and lung function testing which require more space.  Once up and running, the hub at Milford will provide valuable access to these services from the more rural geography of Waverley with the Woking hub serving an area of much higher population.

Senior Responsible Officer for Surrey Heartlands, Dr Claire Fuller, 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 for both testing and monitoring longer-term conditions. Overall, we are aiming to make testing as accessible as possible, in Covid-safe surroundings, to speed up how quickly patients go from raising a concern to getting a diagnosis.  Some of our priority areas include breathlessness and long-Covid; heart failure and valve disease; and cancer and access to rapid testing.”  

Overall, these new centres will help achieve:

  • earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster, and more direct access to the full range of diagnostic tests needed to understand patients’ symptoms including breathlessness, cancer, ophthalmology.
  • a reduction in hospital visits which will help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and
  • a contribution to the NHS’ net zero ambitions by providing multiple tests at one visit, reducing the number of patient journeys and helping to cut carbon emissions and air pollution. 

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “Rapid diagnosis will save lives and these one-stop shops for checks, scans and tests in the heart of 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.

“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.”

Community Diagnostic 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 in 2019.