New NHS testing centre in Oldham will boost access to care for patients

Date published: 14 October 2021

Patients in Rochdale and the surrounding area will benefit from earlier diagnostic testing closer to home, thanks to £4.5m of funding for a new community diagnostic centre due to open in Oldham in Spring 2022.

Successful collaborative working 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 the £350 million national investment fund to create one of 40 new community diagnostic centres across England.

In the first phase, 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’s estimated that more than 30,000 patients a year will use the Oldham facility, with a number of benefits being delivered to them, 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, with a ‘one stop shop’ model of care.
  • An overall reduction in hospital visits, helping to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission; and contribute to the NHS’ net zero ambitions by providing multiple tests at one visit, reducing the number of patient journeys and cutting carbon emissions and air pollution.

Barney Schofield, Director of Planning and Delivery for Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospital and community services in Oldham, Rochdale, Bury 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 and will provide 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 diagnostics services.

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

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 roll-out of the community diagnostic centre in Oldham will help us to spot problems sooner, when they are easier to treat.”

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