19 August 2022
The Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) at Finchley Memorial Hospital celebrated its first birthday this month, having helped over 50,000 NHS patients across Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington get quicker access to diagnostic scans and tests since opening in 2021.
The Finchley CDC, hosted by Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, is one of 92 new specialist diagnostic hubs across England and one of two CDCs planned in the north central London (NCL) area (the other, hosted by Whittington Health NHS Trust, is scheduled to open in The Mall Wood Green shopping centre in late summer 2022).
CDCs are being established across the UK to increase NHS diagnostic capacity by providing new facilities and equipment, training new staff, creating new partnerships and innovative ways of delivering healthcare, whilst reducing pressures on acute sites.
Finchley Memorial Hospital CDC opened in August 2021 and was one of the first sites in the UK to begin providing services in this new and innovative way. This ambitious programme has rapidly grown from a single mobile CT scanner to now include one fixed and one mobile MRI scanner and two non-obstetric ultrasound machines. Diagnostic services currently available include MRI and CT scans, non-obstetric ultrasound scans, blood tests, ophthalmology, and other cardiology, respiratory and microvascular tests. The new, dedicated MRI suite opened this week with the first fixed scanner operational and able to scan its first patients.
Over the next year, other work taking place at the Finchley CDC includes:
• Further expansion of the MRI suite with an additional fixed scanner
• Installing a fixed CT scanner
• Developing x-ray services
• Expanding respiratory services to include sleep testing (in addition to lung function tests currently offered)
• Providing all additional tests required to ensure Finchley CDC meets all ‘minimum test requirements’ for a ‘standard’ model CDC (see notes)
The Finchley Memorial Hospital was chosen as one of the first CDC sites because it could be opened quickly, is easily accessible and it’s more cost effective and straightforward to set up new services in an existing healthcare facility. It is a model of sustainable design and construction, taking into account the drive to reduce the carbon footprint of the NHS.
NHS trusts providing services from the Finchley CDC site include Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Central London Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (CLCH).
Patients needing scans can be referred to the new CDC by any of their local hospitals, supporting NHS trusts to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diagnostic waiting lists. Patients can still choose to attend their own hospital, but with Finchley being open seven days a week from 8am until 8pm, patients are welcoming the convenience and flexibility this offers them to attend their appointments.
All residents in north central London can also now benefit from the CDC’s new phlebotomy service opening times. A patient with a GP referral and form can now book an appointment between 7am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tests can be booked online here 24 hours a day, or via the telephone booking service on 0208 349 7460 between 7am and 12pm Monday to Friday, making blood testing much more accessible for patients with busy lives, family and work commitments.
Further work is now underway to ensure all the different hospital and GP computer systems across north central London can link up and share patient diagnostic images and reports. In due course this will enable GPs to refer patients directly to Finchley, meaning shorter waiting times and an improved, more seamless experience for patients.
Dr Ash Saini, consultant radiologist, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and NCL imaging lead, said “It has been both exciting and rewarding to see how the CDC at Finchley Memorial Hospital has increased the number and range of essential diagnostic tests it has to offer patients in the past year. Patients tell us that having access to this service gives them peace of mind and confidence in the NHS’s ability to treat them in a timely way. I’d also like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of the CDC staff who have made this possible.”
Jonathan Gardner, Director of Strategy at Whittington Health NHS Trust and lead for delivery of CDCs in NCL said: “I’m delighted that Finchley Memorial Hospital Community Diagnostic Centre has seen an incredible 50,000 patients from north central London in its first year. Every one of these appointments has supported our hospitals to recover from the impact of the pandemic and improved access to diagnostic tests for our patients. Our two local CDCs are a great example of how different parts of the NHS are working together in new and innovative ways for patients to access tests and scans, reducing the time they have to wait."