The recent publication of the NHS’ delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care highlighted £2.3 billion to help increase the volume of diagnostic activity, as a key part of many elective care pathways. The ambition to deliver a network of more than 100 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) across England will bring tests closer to home, improve access and reduce patient waiting times. There is a significant opportunity to transform elective care delivery, by expanding and separating elective and diagnostic service capacity. It is crucial that the NHS maximises the value from every pound.
Community Health Partnerships (CHP), as an NHS Company, believes there is substantial value in utilising the existing NHS estate to deliver on this national imperative. CHP is responsible for over 300 health properties across England, delivered via the NHS LIFT Programme. They are high quality, accessible, local health infrastructure assets available to the NHS now. Historically they have been developed in areas of high health needs and deprivation.
As leaders in shaping the care environment for locally based services, our objective is to work in partnership as part of integrated care systems to provide facilities solutions. We can provide NHS organisations access to modern, fit for purpose space at speed, through flexible occupation models, at value for money rates underpinned by our partnership ethos and end to end turnkey approach.
Our partnership and speed of delivery is demonstrated at Finchley Memorial CDC in North Central London, an early adopter site that opened in July 2021. Highlighted as a case study in the NHS Delivery Plan, CHP worked with North Central London Integrated Care System, as lead commissioners and the Royal Free London as host Trust, together with North London Estates Partnerships to design and deliver one of the first CDCs in the country at Finchley Memorial Hospital.
Finchley Memorial Hospital is a CHP Public Private Partnership (PPP) asset. The local health system recognised that with some minor adaptations it could quickly be established as a CDC, with the benefits to patients and staff being rapidly realised. This is just one of many similar opportunities we are identifying across the existing community based portfolio. We know we can support the NHS to respond to the elective care capacity challenge through our estate. We have recently completed a detailed piece of work looking at available space across our 310 health buildings, including compiling comprehensive data on both available space and areas which could be repurposed to deliver on national and local needs.
As ICSs and health providers weigh up options for locating CDCs, it is worth remembering that CHP PPP buildings are part of the ongoing running costs of the NHS. Therefore, there is greater value from utilising existing assets that are maintained to year one standard with no backlog maintenance. Together with CHP’s delivery capabilities and procurement safe supply chain we can respond to requests for feasibilities and adaption quickly. In many instances we can potentially have a local CDC up and running in 6 to 12 months.
Over the past 20 years we have supported NHS partners to deliver better health outcomes through the development of the community-based NHS estate, investing in buildings at the heart of local communities. We believe these buildings are ideally placed to support the elective care recovery challenge. Our Regional Directors and local teams are already closely working with ICSs, estates forums, and PCNs.
Please contact us if you would like to find out more about the opportunities and work going on in your area.