How can new diagnostics hubs cope with staff shortages?

Nineteen more locations have been announced for Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) by the Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay, which takes the total approved to 127, but how will they operate in the face of staff shortages, is outsourcing inevitable?

By September 2022, there were 92 CDCs up and running and the government has a target of  “160 CDCs to perform up to nine million additional tests a year by 2025”.

But are these centres going to have any impact on the 1.5 million people waiting for tests at the end of October 2022, 11.8% of which have been waiting 13 weeks or more from referral for one of the 15 key diagnostic tests?

Although Covid is cited by the government as a reason for the backlog, the problem is more long-standing as the ‘standard’ six week wait target for a diagnostic test has not been met since February 2017.

Diagnostics is a key component of many treatment pathways and any delay in tests can reduce patient survival. A lack of diagnostics is having a particularly devastating effect on cancer waiting times. In November 2022, NHS England reported the worst ever waiting times for cancer treatment.

The Lowdown, 16 December 2022