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NHS England report identifies need for ‘radical change’ in diagnostic services

A report commissioned by NHS England of diagnostic services across the country has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for ‘radical change’.

The report, Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal, which was near publications before the COVID-19 pandemic, has identified additional actions needed to deliver higher quality diagnostic services to support the recovery in this area.

As part of this review, NHS England identified new service models needed to increase diagnostic activity in both the short- and long-term.

Within the report, NHS England identified a number of key actions that need to be undertaken to improve diagnostic services, including separating acute and elective diagnostics to increase efficiency, and improvement for acute diagnostic services for A&E and inpatient care to cut delays.

In addition, the report identified that community diagnostic hubs should be established away from acute hospital sites and kept as clear of COVID-19 as possible. Community phlebotomy services also require improvement, so that all patients can have blood samples taken close to home without needed to come to acute hospitals.

According to NHS England, these new services will require ‘major investments’ in facilities, equipment and workforce, as well as for training of additional highly skilled staff.

“We welcome the publication of Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal. Diagnostics, and IVDs in particular have a key role to play in getting the NHS back to full strength, identifying conditions and treating patients, while at the same time coping with the ongoing pandemic,” said Helen Dent, chief operating officer of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association.

“In particular we broadly support the idea of Community Diagnostic Hubs, where patients will be able to get their tests done without having to visit hospital – we know that fear of catching COVID-19 in medical settings is deterring people from seeking treatment, and this will help ensure patients can access care in what they consider a safe environment,” she added.