Thousands to benefit from earlier diagnostic tests with launch of east Kent hub

Published on 7 October 2021

Ten thousand people each year will be offered CT scans at a new diagnostic hub being set up at Buckland Hospital in Dover.

The hub is the first one in Kent and is one of 40 announced by the Government, aiming to provide easier and quicker access to diagnostic tests nearer people’s homes.

Phase one of the project will see a mobile CT scanner based at the hospital in Coombe Valley Road, while phase two involves a permanent scanner installed inside the building. The outpatients department will also be expanded to introduce other tests, creating one-stop shop for patients. A third phase will include expanding the endoscopy department.

Liz Shutler, East Kent Hospitals’ deputy chief executive and director of strategic development, said:

“Our hard-working teams have continued caring for people throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but we know there are a lot of people who are still waiting for tests or scans.

“The new diagnostic hub will make it easier for people to access the tests they need sooner, meaning they will be able to start any treatment they need.

“It also avoids the need for people to travel to one of our acute hospitals, helping to keep services there free for emergency patients.”

The project is based on a ‘hub and spokes’ design, where the hospital will be the hub and other ‘spokes’ at GP practices and other sites in the community will provide more tests such as ultrasound scans, skin biopsies, and x-rays.

The diagnostic hub will operate from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, for people who have been referred from their GP.

As well as screening for cancer, it will help patients with Long Covid and other conditions including skin, ear and eye conditions.

GP Dr Sadia Rashid, clinical lead for the East Kent Health and Care Partnership, which is leading the project, said: “The launch of the first diagnostic hub in east Kent is great news, with more to follow in other parts of Kent and Medway.

“The hubs are one way of showing how health partners can have a real impact on patient care when they work closely together.

“The ability to make it easier and faster for patients to access diagnostics is key.  

“Rather than travelling to hospital, GPs will be able to refer patients to a centre so they can access life-saving checks closer to home and be diagnosed for a range of conditions.

“This will be more convenient for patients, more efficient and resilient, as well as reduce the risk of cancelled tests in hospitals due to COVID-19.”

Thanks to more than £6million of Government funding, work will start soon and the hub should provide its first services over the next six months and be fully operational by March 2022.