MEDICS at Barnsley town centre’s ‘groundbreaking’ diagnostics hub have vowed to almost double the figure of patients being treated within the next year following a multi-million pound expansion which will further reduce waiting list backlogs.

Following an initial allocation of approximately £2.8m of capital funding via the national Community Diagnostics Centre (CDC) programme, Barnsley’s hub - in the Glass Works - was awarded a further sum of around £4.6m at the beginning of last year to expand into neighbouring units.

This saw the installation of a new CT system in September and additional healthcare services now include computerised tomography (CT), abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (AAA), urodynamics, capsule endoscopy and retinal eye screening.

A recently-installed Aquilion Prime SP machine offers faster turnaround times for cardiac scanning and new diagnostic capabilities, further easing pressure on the hospital.

As of February 2023, staff had provided over 40,000 checks and scans but following the new installation, it is estimated that the total amount of patients seen at Barnsley CDC will rise to approximately 70,000 annually.

Liz Elfleet, medical imaging manager at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This will provide excellent technology and the equipment is backed by superior training along with excellent service support.

“Since this latest installation, the team has seen improved image quality and greater productivity, leading to faster patient examinations.

“This has resulted in a further reduction to our waiting lists for patients.

“We’re committed to helping local people live happy, healthy lives.

“By bringing diagnostic tests to Barnsley town centre, we can offer scans earlier and in a more friendly and accessible location.

“Residents have been involved in how we’ve transformed the centre even the artwork that’s on the walls was chosen by the patient experience group.

“The Glass Works has a range of accessible parking options and is conveniently located for Barnsley residents.”

Since its opening in 2022, waiting times for non-obstetric ultrasound diagnostics have been cut by half - from six weeks in March 2022 to three weeks in September 2022 - while the uptake rate for breast screening also increased from around half in April 2022 to almost three-quarters by October 2022.

Barnsley was chosen to house a CDC as it is among the most deprived ten per cent of communities in England, with life expectancy for men almost two-and-a-half years lower than the national average, and two years lower for women.

Dr Richard Jenkins, chief executive of Barnsley Hospital, added: “The diagnostic hub, developed in partnership with Barnsley Council, was the first of its kind in the UK and has enjoyed a hugely successful first year, delivering thousands of tests, checks and scans for the people of Barnsley.

“Not only has it increased capacity of diagnostic services to help reduce waiting times, it has also improved access to services to help early detection of diseases.

“We have seen from the public response that it is bringing real benefits to people’s health and wellbeing in an environment that they know - linking up health appointments with every day life and activity while helping people get vital health checks sooner.”