The NHS has delivered a record number of potentially lifesaving tests and checks with over 25 million carried out in the last year, new data shows.
Figures released this week show NHS staff delivered more than 25 million checks (25,377,280 August – July) in a year for patients – two million more compared to the same period before the pandemic (23,279,609 to July 2019).
Compared to the same period a decade ago, there has been an almost 50% increase – with 17 million carried out in in the same period in 2013 (17,256,061).
The announcement comes as four new one-stop shops for testing are set to open in England, joining 118 centres already operating in local communities. Centres like Wood Green and Barnsley Glass Works are up and running in shopping centres, making it as convenient as possible for people to get checked.
The approval of the four new community diagnostic centres – two in Wiltshire, one in Thanet and one in Cheshire – will add to the 168 one-stop shops that are already approved.
These centres are playing a key role in carrying out record numbers of tests and checks, with patients able to get tested at convenient locations as close to peoples’ homes. Staff have now delivered more than five million tests and checks at the local hubs.
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The incredible hard work of staff means the NHS has delivered two million more tests and checks in the last year than before the pandemic and a staggering eight million more than a decade ago – helping ensure patients get the all-clear or can be diagnosed and treated for a range of conditions as quickly as possible.
“The rollout of community diagnostic centres will not only help us to see more people than ever before, but they are also in locations that are most convenient for patients, and it is fantastic that we can today announce the approval of four more centres.
“NHS campaigns encouraging people to come forward with worrying signs are clearly having a hugely positive effect, with thousands more patients getting checked – so as ever, if you have any health concerns, please do get checked – it could save your life”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Thanks to these one-stop shops and other diagnostic centres, the NHS delivered two million extra potentially life-saving tests, scans and checks this year, helping to reduce waiting times and speed up treatments for people.
“This is part of our plan to use every available resource to improve access to health services for patients and ease pressure on the NHS”.
Director of NHS Confederation’s Acute Network Rory Deighton said: “NHS leaders and their staff have strained every sinew to ramp up the delivery of testing and diagnostics, and these figures show the scale of what they have achieved, with the NHS delivering comparable record activity for each month this year.
“The number of tests delivered in the first seven months of 2023 is up 52% from the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic – a remarkable achievement given the challenges the NHS has faced, and these new testing centres will further boost efforts”.
Every month this year so far has seen record activity for diagnostic tests, with the hard work and innovation of NHS staff ensuring more people are being checked than ever before.
Overall, there were a total of 2.2 million tests and checks carried out in July of this year – up 12% on last year (1.97 million in July 2022) and up by more than two fifths from 1.6 million in June 2013. Of these, CT scans were the most used form of check last month, making up almost a third (30.8%) of all diagnostic activity in July.
The average waiting time for diagnostic tests has fallen from almost nine weeks at the peak of the pandemic (8.6 in May 2020) to just 3.1 weeks in July.
More people than ever before are getting checked for cancer with 263,696 urgent referrals for cancer in July – the highest ever for that month and the second highest on record.
Over the last year, there have been almost three million cancer checks (2,946,132 referrals between August 2022 and July 2023) and in July, 27,641 people started treatment for cancer, with more than nine in 10 beginning within one month.
The four new community diagnostic centres (CDC) are:
Thanet spoke CDC
Salisbury spoke CDC
West Swindon spoke CDC
Congleton War Memorial spoke CDC