Regional diagnostics update

The North West’s diagnostics community continues to work to bring down the waiting lists that built up as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The regional diagnostics team and teams from the three Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across our region are focusing on improving quality, efficiency and effectiveness of patient care.  Progress is being made in a number of key areas including improving performance, increasing capacity through the roll out of Community Diagnostic Centres and supporting the workforce. 

All three of our ICSs are producing performance improvement plans (PIPs) to demonstrate the impact of investments made within this year, and future years on improving diagnostic performance.  

The PIPs include the trajectories to achieve the 95% target for six week waits by March 2025. Systems will be monitored against these plans and assurances sought via the regional Elective Recovery Groups and Diagnostics Board, which also provides an opportunity to identify challenges, offer support and share good practice. 

An initial review of long waiting patients for diagnostics, has been carried out across the systems, with Trusts actively working to reduce the volume of patients within this cohort, and further reduce data quality issues via the Waiting List Minimum Data Set (WLMDS). The review was initially carried out between 7 August and 18 September and as a result there was a reduction of 24% in patients waiting between 52 and 104 weeks, and a 41% reduction in those waiting for 104 weeks or more.  Underlying issues included identified data quality relating to surveillance patients as well as for those sent for treatment by the independent sector.  

Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) continue to grow and develop. To date, nationally, the total volume of tests delivered through CDCs has reached 2.15 million. The most recent figures show that the North West has delivered 314,918 tests to date, making our region, the third largest contributor to CDC tests delivered. The North West has 13 sites live, with a further three sites approved for implementation over the next three years. There are further business cases in development for additional sites across Cheshire and Merseyside, and Greater Manchester. 

Breakdown of Tests delivered to date: 

  • Endoscopy: 15,268  
  • Imaging: 163,529  
  • Physiological Measurements: 22,338  
  • Pathology: 44,899  
  • Other / Miscellaneous: 376,736  

A virtual North West workshop was held on 6 September 2022; “North West Accelerating Community Diagnostic Workforce Workshop”. The aims of the workshop were to: 

  1. Gain an understanding of the diagnostic transformation programme. 
  1. Provide feedback on case studies that are illustrative of the community diagnostic workforce now and, what we would expect to see in the future. 
  1. Listen to examples of good practice to support the recruitment of the future diagnostic workforce and retention of our existing workforce. 

Seek feedback to develop CDC workforce action plans  

Following the positive feedback given, a second workshop is now planned, as a face to face event, scheduled for 13 December 2022.  The North West has also managed to secure in year funding to support developments in a number of areas across all three systems: 

  • Endoscopy: To focus on levelling up service provision in the region and achievement of Joint Advisory Group (JAG) accreditation for our endoscopy units 
  • Imaging: To support the implementation of MRI acceleration technology, increasing productivity of MRI assets.  Early outcomes identify a minimum of 10% increase of productivity through digital investment  
  • Digital: To support implementation of digital roadmaps for imaging and pathology networks