A new NHS health hub offering rapid scans, tests and checks in the heart of Stockton town centre will go-ahead – after being given approval.
The community diagnostic centre (CDC), on the former Castlegate Shopping Centre site in Stockton High Street, will be a one-stop shop offering tests to help speed up diagnosis of conditions from cancer to heart or lung disease for people across the Tees Valley.
The scheme is being delivered by the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board in collaboration with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
In the region, 14 CDCs are currently up and running and have delivered more than 257,000 tests, checks and scans.
Phil Woolfall, clinical director for radiology at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is fantastic news for our population across the Tees Valley – this diagnostic centre will help make healthcare readily available for all.
“Having access to services including MRI scans and CT scans means patients can receive faster health checks outside of the hospital setting and closer to their homes.
“Diagnostic centres have already proven their effectiveness across the country – it’s something we and our partners believe is the right one for our population.”
David Reaich, deputy chief medical officer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new centre will build on the access to diagnostic scans which is already in place for patients at sites across Teesside.”
Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care announced diagnostic centres across the country have helped carry out two million scans, tests and checks.
In the Tees Valley over a period spanning just over a year, the centres have delivered more than 45,000 additional diagnostic tests – achieved despite ongoing pressures of the pandemic and winter demand.
More funding has been secured to continue into the next year of the programme, with plans to deliver around 60,000 diagnostic tests across radiology, cardiology, respiratory services over this period.
Based in community settings such as shopping centres and football stadiums, diagnostic hubs house a range of cutting-edge equipment, including MRI, CT, X-ray and ultrasound scanners and offer services including blood tests or heart rhythm and blood pressure monitoring.
David Gallagher, executive area director (Tees Valley and Central) for the North East and North Cumbria ICB, said: “Earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster and more convenient access to testing we know can significantly improve a patients long-term health. Having a health hub in the heart of Stockton town centre will help up catch cancers and other health issues as quickly as possible, helping us save more lives.”
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust currently provides its diagnostic care in hospital by specialists – where patients with ‘nonspecific symptoms’ which could be linked to cancer or other illness are seen within two weeks.
Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, said: “This is such an important investment in our region. I have worked with our NHS partners throughout my own tenure to ensure a levelling up for our region regards community diagnostics, truly focused on place based care is a priority.
“Our health care leaders have driven the health inequalities agenda with absolute determination for a number of years. It’s testament to all involved in this collaboration that we will invest in a Stockton based hub to truly change the health outcomes for the Tees Valley. Early diagnosis and of course prevention will herald a change in life expectancy for our communities.
“Furthermore, the investment in new roles will help to regenerate our health and care landscape, future proofing our work force in such a progressive way.”
Councillor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Stockton and a huge show of faith in our plans to transform the Castlegate Centre site.
“This is such an exciting opportunity and it shows there is a clear desire for partners to be in the heart of our new waterfront development.
“The new centre will be surrounded by new Council services on the southern part of the site and a fantastic urban park is certain to be a significant footfall driver.
“These facilities are set to be in a central and accessible location to serve the people of the Borough and further afield. I am confident they will also deliver significant benefits to a number of areas.”