A SOARING backlog of cancer screening appointments will be eased thanks to the opening of a new town centre diagnostic centre next month.

The NHS venue, based in the Glass Works, will help alleviate pressure on existing facilities and will be open seven days a week.

It is seen as a more convenient way for patients to receive ultrasound, X-ray, breast screening, phlebotomy and bone density scans due to its location.

Patients across the borough will now benefit from the facility after £3m of capital funding was confirmed last year.

Barnsley Hospital bosses have confirmed they are to open the new diagnostic centre this spring - and they hope to have their first diagnostic services available next month, with others following in May.

Bosses at the trust believe the site will help improve access for patients, reduce waiting times for diagnostic services, as well as helping with the early detection of diseases.

It’s part of a national programme to help the NHS further accelerate diagnostic activity in a bid to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic at a much faster pace.

The Glass Works site will be one of 40 new centres created from a £350m national pot and the new ‘one-stop-shops’ will provide a combined total of 2.8 million scans in their first full year of operation.

Professor Des Breen, the medical director for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, said: “When people are unwell and experiencing ongoing signs or symptoms, their doctor might request diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out specific conditions or diseases.

“The centre will be in a convenient location, often closer to where people live or easier to get to than larger hospital sites, that will provide diagnostic testing.

“Overall, this is a huge step forward in improving the patient experience in diagnosis.”

A scrutiny report compiled in July last year stated that the number of appointments that can be made in one day had reduced due to Covid restrictions such as social distancing measures and plans for a town centre specialist standalone facility were subsequently fast-tracked.

Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, hit out at the government last month for allowing hospital lists to ‘spiral’ in the town.

Figures showed that at the end of November, there were 13,589 people on the waiting list at Barnsley Hospital - 106 people had been waiting for more than a year and one person had been waiting for more than two years.

Ms Peacock said: “People in Barnsley are being forced to wait months and even years for treatment, often in pain and discomfort.

“It is unacceptable and will have appalling consequences for patients.

“Our local health care staff have worked heroically throughout the pandemic, but they are now stretched like never before.”