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Diagnostics test boost coming to Weston and North Somerset

Last updated: 04/08/2023

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) has worked with local partners to increase the amount of diagnostic tests available for patients in the South West.

Weston-super-Mare has been chosen as a location for one of the new state-of-the-art community diagnostic centres (CDC) opening in 2024.

This is part of a groundbreaking agreement that means there will be thousands more scans and investigations for NHS patients in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, to speed up treatment, reduce waiting lists and provide care closer to home.

The CDC will offer a range of different tests during a single visit, reducing travel and the number of appointments for people.

Another CDC will be based at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.

The CDCs will provide endoscopy (at Cribbs Causeway), MRI and CT scans, ultrasounds, blood and lung tests and more to thousands of people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The array of scans and tests at the CDCs will help with the diagnosis and treatment of people with a range of conditions, from cancer to joint problems.

Mobile units are currently running at Weston-super-Mare’s Locality Health Centre (UHBW) and at Southmead and Cossham North Bristol Trust (NBT) hospitals to provide additional endoscopy and imaging capacity for patients until the fixed centres open.

Paula Clarke, Executive Managing Director (Weston) at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"We are delighted to work with our partners to be able to offer more vital diagnostic services to people in Weston.

“Local access to these tests is key to supporting improvements in health outcomes and helping reduce health inequalities. The ongoing work at our mobile centre alongside GP colleagues is already demonstrating how community tests can bring benefits for local people.”

InHealth has been appointed as preferred bidder for the project, following a competitive procurement exercise by NHS England in the South West to find the best partner. The procurement was carried out on behalf of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), as the best way of improving access and bringing rapid increases in diagnostic capacity and staffing.

InHealth and the NHS are working towards an integrated workforce model with staff from both organisations working together to make best use of their combined expertise. InHealth, already runs a network of 11 CDCs and a fleet of mobile units that serve four million patients a year.

Siting more diagnostics in communities and at accessible sites means the area’s main hospitals will be able to focus on more complex cases and on urgent and emergency care, with less chance that people have their appointments postponed at times of high demand.

Dr Joanne Medhurst, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB, said:

“We are really excited to be investing in our diagnostic capacity, which will support thousands of people across the area to be seen more quickly - this means that if you do have a serious  illness it can be identified and treated earlier – which can mean, in the longer term, less impact on overall health and wellbeing.

“We look forward to working with both North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust to get the services in place and operational for 1 April 2024.”

North Bristol NHS Trust Chief Medical Officer, Tim Whittlestone, said:

“Providing additional diagnostic scans and tests will be incredibly positive for the experience of our patients and we are pleased to be a part of rolling out these centres in local communities.

“We are already seeing benefits for patients who have used our mobile units for endoscopy, MRI and CT scans since they launched in May and are looking forward to being able to deliver even more for the population when the Cribbs Causeway site opens next year.”