A new Community Diagnostic Centre will be built in Welwyn Hatfield, one of 40 across the country – providing a one-stop-shop for key testing to boost early diagnoses, and speed up and increase referrals.

The Centres will provide a full range of scans and tests to patients to catch illnesses at the earliest signs – increasing NHS capacity and saving lives as we tackle the historic elective backlog caused by the pandemic.

This builds on the £5.4 billion announced in September 2021 to tackle the backlog over the next six months.

Local MP Grant Shapps has welcomed the announcement that the QEII centre in Welwyn Garden City has been selected as one of 40 sites across England for a new Community Diagnostic Centre to be built.

The new centre will begin providing services over the next six months, with all 40 centres set to be fully operational by March 2022.

The centre will provide services closer to home for people in Welwyn Hatfield to meet rising demand, as part of the Conservative Government’s plan to tackle the NHS backlog and catch health issues quickly.

The QEII’s new Community Diagnostic Centre will achieve earlier diagnoses for patients through easier, faster, and more direct access to the full range of scans and tests needed to understand patients’ symptoms – including breathlessness and cancer symptoms.

The centre will also help reduce the risk of Covid transmission, and contributed to the NHS’ net zero efforts by reducing the number of patients journeys required in Welwyn Hatfield through providing multiple scans and tests in a single visit.

The pandemic has meant that many people with health concerns have refrained from coming forward for checks and scans, while non-urgent procedures were postponed to allow the NHS to focus on the Covid response. Boosting diagnostic services is key to supporting the NHS in clearing the backlog.

The Government announced on 6 September 2021 an extra £5.4 billion to support the NHS as it responds to Covid over the next six months. This additional funding is on top of the £36 billion already committed to health and social care over the next three years through the Health and Care Levy.

The funding raised through the Levy includes £8 billion to tackle backlogs and help the NHS increase capacity on pre-pandemic levels by providing an extra 9 million checks, scans, and operations for patients across the country.

Commenting, Mr Shapps said: “We know that many people have not been coming forward for key tests throughout the pandemic, which has contributed to the backlog, and can result in worsening health outcomes.

“The new Community Diagnostic Centre will help deliver better services for people across Welwyn Hatfield. By allowing problems to be detected earlier, better treatment can be given to patients.

“Through investing in early diagnosis and increasing NHS capacity we will be able to treat serious illnesses sooner and save lives – levelling up health outcomes across the country.”

Commenting, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Due to Covid, we have a historic backlog – there were 300,000 fewer urgent cancer referrals over the pandemic than were expected, and the backlog could grow to as high as 13 million in the coming years unless addressed.

“We are announcing 40 new Community Diagnostic Centres which will help us tackle the backlog by bringing vital services closer to home, allowing us to meet rising demand, catch cancer and other issues as quickly as possible, and save more lives.

“The Conservatives are the party of the NHS. We protected the NHS from being overwhelmed during the most challenging period in its history. Now, as we help the NHS build back better from the pandemic, we must do the same. Today’s announcement is a big step towards achieving this aim”.