Spending Review targets Diagnostics following Richards report

£325m for expanding diagnostic testing, replacing older equipment

The report released in October, recommends a radical overhaul of the way NHS diagnostic services are delivered for patients.

Community diagnostic hubs or ‘one stop shops’ should be created across the country, away from hospitals, so that patients can receive life-saving checks close to their homes. The centres could be set up in free space on the high street or retail parks.

Professor Sir Mike Richards was commissioned by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens to review diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The review’s proposals will help save lives and improve people’s quality of life including for cancer, stroke, heart disease and respiratory conditions.

Sir Mike says that these new services would be ‘covid free’, with diagnostic checks in A&E separated from tests taken ahead of routine procedures. Such an approach would be quicker and safe for patients, so anyone who is in hospital should be able to get a scan on the day.

The report adds that any new services will need to be implemented over time, requiring significant investment in facilities, equipment and workforce alongside replacing outdated testing machines.

Recommendations include:

  • Tests for emergency and elective diagnostics should be separate, to reduce hold-ups for patients
  • CT scanning capacity should be doubled over the next five years to meet increasing demand and to match other developed countries
  • Tests for heart and lung diseases need to be enhanced given the link to coronavirus
  • More staff need to be trained to undertake screening colonoscopies
  • The imaging workforce needs to be expanded as soon as possible with 2,000 additional radiologists and 4,000 radiographers as well as other support staff

The Chancellor's Spending review of 25th November promised £3bn extra to the NHS in England, with £1bn to reduce waits for care and the £325m earmarked for expanding diagnostic testing, including the replacement of old scanners, to detect cancer and other diseases.


Professor Stephen O'Connor, IPEM's President commented:

' IPEM welcomes the £325m announced by the Chancellor yesterday. This budget is to expand diagnostic testing and replacement of old imaging systems used to detect cancer and other diseases as well as to grow the NHS workforce and to improve training. 

However, it must be acknowledged that the need for radical investment and reform of diagnostic services was well known before Covid-19. 

New facilities must be delivered with new equipment, well trained and appropriately staffed workforce together with new healthcare delivery models to ensure early diagnosis, better prognosis and optimised patient outcomes. It takes at least 3 years to train a HCPC registered Clinical Scientist. Unfortunately, the training provision for the number of new Clinical Technologists required remains insufficient.

We need to go further, we need to go faster and we need to go now.'

Diagnostics report