May 18, 2022

A new report by researchers from Imperial College London and Philips UK and Ireland reveals urgent need to expand diagnostic capacity in communities across England

   

• Latest study reveals the disparity in diagnostic and treatment challenges across a number of focus regions: the South East, East and South West of England and London

 

• If Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) are to help in improving patient outcomes, as well as meeting critical NHS targets, such as for cancer and non-emergency treatment, the report suggests the centres must be near to where people reside, away from congested secondary care settings, and in areas with the most significant health inequalities 

Farnborough, United Kingdom – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) - A new report, released today by researchers from Imperial College London, working independently via Imperial Consultants, with Philips UK and Ireland, reveals that newly introduced CDCs need to be prioritised in locations of greatest socioeconomic deprivation and with the highest waiting times, to help improve patient outcomes and tackle the NHS backlog and bring diagnostic services closer to underserved communities.


Following the UK Government’s plans [1] to create 160 CDCs and deliver an additional 9 million checks, scans, and operations by 2025, the report investigates the role CDCs can play in addressing the major diagnostic challenges facing the NHS and proposes locations for future CDCs to expand access to care for those who need it the most. 

Unabating systemic pressure, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic  

 

Data revealed by Imperial’s researchers highlights why a successful CDC rollout is paramount for addressing challenges in the provision of timely diagnostic, cancer and planned services which have been compounded by the pandemic. The report reveals that at the time of writing:

 

  • The number of people waiting for diagnostics tests has increased steadily to more than 1.4 million. The proportion of those waiting more than 6 weeks for an MRI or CT scan has risen from 2.2% and 2.3% in November 2019 to 22.8% and 19.4% in November 2021, respectively. This trend has been even more stark for Echocardiography and Gastrointestinal endoscopy, which has shifted from 4.3% and 9% to 41.9% and 35.7% respectively over the same period [2].
  • For those with symptoms of cancer, the number of patients seen within two weeks has reduced from 91.3% in November 2019 to 77.4% in November 2021, falling well below the operational cancer waiting times standard of 93%. The proportion of patients seen and treated within two months of referral for cancer has also reduced significantly from over 77.5% in November 2019 to less than 68% in November 2021 [3].
  • The number of patients referred without fully completing treatment has increased from around 4.41 million per month in November 2021 to approximately 6 million by November 2021. This number has continued to rise throughout 2021 and into 2022 (latest data for February 2022 is 6.18million), corresponding to a reduction in completion of admitted and non-admitted pathways and a return of new referrals to pre-pandemic levels [4].
The pandemic has muddied an already challenging picture facing the NHS. CDCs can play an important role in getting the NHS back to pre-pandemic levels of care and beyond, but their rollout must be consistent with their design. CDCs must be established in communities not in overburdened hospitals, and critically, be staffed by a highly trained workforce and have the appropriate equipment. At present, there is not enough capacity in the system and correcting this must be a key focus in the months and years to come.”

The study’s co-author, Dr Jonathan Clarke

Imperial College London

The introduction of community diagnostics offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how we can work with the NHS to build a resilient healthcare system fit for the future, including how and where the NHS delivers timely care to patients. CDCs hold the potential to relieve persistent pressure on acute hospitals and empower GPs and primary care providers to ensure patients can get a swift diagnosis and begin their treatment journeys sooner.
 

“The research demonstrates the importance of locating CDCs in community-based settings, bringing services closer to people’s homes and in those areas where diagnostic services can’t meet patient demand. Philips stands for improving the health of the nation and tackling healthcare inequalities head on. We are working with HM Government and the NHS to accelerate the roll out of CDCs in regions that need them most so that every patient in the UK needing care can benefit in equal measure.”

Mark Leftwich

Managing Director, Philips UK&I

Recommendations to Government, NHS England and Integrated Care Systems

 

The research makes a number of targeted recommendations to Government, NHS England and Integrated Care Systems across the country, including: 

Government – through policy and funding
NHS England – through guidance
Integrated Care Systems – through regional coordination
  • Invest at scale and over time to ensure the NHS delivers necessary patient care across all pathways 
  • Adopt a data-driven approach to identifying bottlenecks and every available tool for productivity across the entire clinical diagnostics pathway at a local level.
  • Priority should be placed on placing CDCs in locations outside of existing NHS sites to bring diagnostic services closer to underserved communities.
  • Expansion of CDCs should be directly connected to a proposed expansion of surgical hubs (or “Community Treatment Centres”) for minor invasive procedures.
  • Expand diagnostic capacity to minimise the impact of diagnostic delays on reaching national NHS targets for cancer and non-emergency treatment. 
  • Monitor performance at an organisational level to ensure that no local areas are left behind
  • Ensure that investment in infrastructure and equipment is backed up by efforts to train, recruit and retain the workforce required to provide services.
  • Expand access to diagnostics and system resilience through community diagnostics pathways, bringing services closer to patients’ homes, particularly in less well served areas.
  • Involve local managers and decision makers alongside patients and the general public to ensure CDCs tackle local challenges.
Tackling the backlog will require a combination of funding, innovation and cutting-edge technology, while new digital care pathways are critical too. However, if steps are not taken now to focus funding and expansion of diagnostic capacity in those areas that need it the most, the backlog risks being prolonged, further widening healthcare inequalities. 

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and well-being and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2020 sales of EUR 17.3 billion and employs approximately 77,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

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Topics

Improving Regional Diagnostics in the NHS Report
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Philips Recommendations
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Contact Details

 

Elizabeth Littlewood

Philips UKI

Tel.: +44 7909 874563

Email: Elizabeth.littlewood@philips.com

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