NHS doctor testing a patient

Record number of tests and checks in local communities

NHS England has announced that a record number of potentially lifesaving tests and checks have been carried out in the last year.

According to figures that were released last week, more than 25 million checks were delivered in the year, which is two million more than were delivered over the same period before the Covid-19 pandemic. In comparison to the same period in 2013, there has been almost a 50% increase on the 17 million that were carried out a decade ago.

This announcement accompanies the news that four new one-stop shops are set to open in England, bringing the number of testing centres that are in operation across England to 122. Centres around the country are up and running in locations that are convenient for the communities, including shopping centres. Whilst there are 118 centres operational, there are already 168 that have been approved.

Centres such as the new ones that gave been approved play a crucial role in the testing and checking process, with patients able to get tested at a site that is convenient for them. An example of how they have been key to the record numbers of tests and checks can be seen by the fact that five million of the tests and checks have been carried out at local hubs.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, 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”.

Diagnostic tests have also seen a fall in average waiting time from around nine weeks during the Covid-19 pandemic, to only 3.1 weeks in July 2023. Thanks to this, more and more people are getting checked for cancer, with 263,696 urgent referrals being passed on in July. That figure is the highest ever for that month, as well as being the second highest on record.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, added:

“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”.

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