Shropshire has been selected as one of the first places in the country to launch a pioneering community diagnostic health hub.
Health experts are now calling on local people to share their views on the new diagnostic health centre that will offer multiple tests at the same time, making it much easier for people to get tested and provide faster results meaning interventions can happen sooner and lives can be saved.
Led by Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin (STW) Integrated Care System, the Community Diagnostic Hub (CDH) is set to transform how services such as MRI scans, ultrasounds, X-rays and blood tests are carried out to local people.
Around £6 million of national funding has been allocated to set up the first hub in Telford – with a site in Hadley or Hortonwood being considered in order to serve communities where the greatest need for improved health access has been identified. It is planned that this will be opened by next April, with a further three sites set to be rolled out later in Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire, subject to public consultation.
As part of the scheme, the STW Integrated Care System is calling on local people to have their say about what they would like to be provided at the hubs.
It is hoped that the project will pave the way for an enhanced patient experience, by delivering services separately from urgent diagnostic scans, which take place at acute hospital sites, and therefore reducing the risk of last-minute cancellations for patients.
Patricia Davies, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust CEO, said: “We’re incredibly honoured to have been chosen to pilot such an innovative scheme, giving our patients access to a brand new type of diagnostic service.
“The introduction of Community Diagnostic Hubs will, ultimately, enable patients to access a higher quality, more efficient service.
“The pilot project being run in Telford will be the first to be trialled in our area and will allow us to offer planned diagnostic services away from acute hospital sites and completely separate to urgent diagnostic scans. This will reduce waiting times and means that patients will not risk having their appointments for procedures cancelled to make way for emergency cases.
“The first hub will be in the Hadley or Hortonwood area, but it will support people living right across the wider area, with further sites expected over the next five years.”
Councillor Andy Burford, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which has the potential to transform access to diagnostic services for all of our communities. The hub will provide faster access to life-saving tests, helping to improve patient experience and enhance quality of care.
“I am delighted that Telford has been chosen as the location for the first site and we look forward to working with our partners across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin to make sure this service is a success.”
Councillor Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibilities for Adult Social Care and Public Health, added: “This is an exciting opportunity to improve diagnostic services right across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
“We are in the early stages of implementation so, it’s important that we hear from local communities about what they would like to see – they are community hubs and we are relying on the views of local people to inform how we can offer the very best service.
“This first hub in the Telford area will offer an enhanced service for our communities in Shropshire too, and we look forward to seeing further hubs rolled out in the county over the next few years.”
The Hadley/Hortonwood hub, which is expected to launch by April 2022, will include services across: imaging, including CT, MRI, Ultrasound and Plain X-ray; physiological measurement, including ECGs, blood pressure monitoring and lung function tests; and pathology, such as phlebotomy, simple biopsies and urine testing.
And, as part of the wider scheme, a standalone unit will also be created at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to provide elective diagnostics only, such as CT and MRI scans.
Running 12 hours a day, the imaging pod – set to open in August this year – will allow the hospital to increase its capacity by up to 336 patients a week.
Patricia added: “We are committed to improving patient outcomes and patient experience across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and the creation of CDHs will certainly put us on this path.
“The diagnostic services provided in these hubs are a vital way to spot any problems early and give patients access to the right guidance or treatment as soon as possible.
“We’re looking forward to hearing from local people and would encourage everyone to have their say.”
For more information on how to take part in the public engagement programme, visit: https://stwics.org.uk/community-diagnostic-hub-survey