Government commits £250m for NHS digital diagnostics to help ease waiting lists
Money will help speed up processes and free up clinicians’ time, according to health secretary
Credit: Libreshot/Martin Vorel
The government will deliver £248m in funding over the next year to help the NHS digitised diagnostic tests and related processes in a bid to help tackle waiting lists that have grown to unprecedented lengths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money is intended to support the deployment of technologies including products that would allow imaging specialists to remotely assess high-resolution images provided by x-ray machines – rather than requiring them to be in the lab to do so.
The government also wishes to roll out “new tool to help GPs and other clinicians choose the most suitable scan for their patient based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history”.
“This will cut inappropriate requests made to radiology departments, saving radiologists’ time and ensuring patients get the right scans at the right time,” it said.
The overall ambition of the nine-figure investment programme is to reduce the length of time it takes for patients to receive diagnostic tests – and the results thereof – while also lessening the administrative demands placed on clinical professionals and other staff. This, in turn, is intended to "help tackle patient waiting lists", which have grown to record levels.
“Diagnostics services across the NHS will be digitalised using the latest technology to improve the way tests, images and results can be shared across computer systems in hospitals, labs and GP surgeries,” the government said. “It means the nurses, doctors and other clinicians caring for a patient can access these results more quickly and easily, even if they are working from different settings.”
The tech fund comes on top of £2.3bn set aside in the recent spending review to support a nationwide transformation programme for diagnostic services, including the creation of 100 dedicated “one-stop” centres throughout England. The newly established facilities will serve citizens in their surrounding area and will be staffed by multidisciplinary teams seven days a week.
Health and social care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today’s multimillion-pound investment will play a big role in levelling up diagnostics services across the country so patients can get faster results and healthcare professionals can get their job done more easily, reducing unnecessary administrative burden and making every taxpayer’s pound count. Getting a faster diagnosis for a health condition is the first step to getting more people the treatment they need and earlier on, and our funding will help ensure our NHS has access to the latest digital technology to drive up efficiency.”
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