In April Barnsley Hospital opened the doors to its pioneering Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) in the town centre’s Glass Works. At that time the centre offered phlebotomy and ultrasound diagnostic services, which were later joined by breast screening in May and plain film x-ray services in early June.

Barnsley’s CDC is the first of its kind to be sited in a town centre mixed retail and leisure facility.

From 28 June the centre brings bone density scanning to the unit to complete the initial set of diagnostic services planned in the first phase of development. Sometimes known as DEXA scanning, a bone density scan uses low dose X-rays to see how dense (or strong) your bones are, and are often used to diagnose or assess your risk of osteoporosis, a health condition that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.

Barnsley Hospital Service Manager for Medical Imaging Allie Lamb explains how the project came about:

“The decision to bid for funding for a Community Diagnostic Centre was based on a report about diagnostic services by UK National Screening Committee Chair Sir Mike Richards. The report suggested it would be better for patients if emergency care and elective “planned” care were provided in separate locations. Essentially, staff working at the CDC will be able to concentrate on performing routine outpatient appointments without interruption, and staff at the hospital site can concentrate on emergency and inpatient work.”

The convenient and accessible location in the heart of Barnsley will not only provide greater local capacity for these vital diagnostic services, but it’s hoped more people will feel able to attend their regular check-ups and so help in early detection of disease.

Some people are intimidated by a hospital environment and the unit in the Glass Works is far from that. People enjoy the light and modern feel of the building, and the majority of patients who have already attended an appointment there say they prefer it to the hospital. Patients also prefer the transport links to the centre as parking capacity is often limited at the hospital site.

Barnsley Hospital Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Delivery Officer Bob Kirton said:

“We’re delighted with the location. The Glass Works is perfect for our patients and will mean people will not have to spend so much time travelling to and from the hospital for these important appointments. We have done some public engagement exercises and people have been really enthusiastic.”

Leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Sir Stephen Houghton said of the project:

“Having this centre in our fantastic Glass Works development, close to the Transport Interchange, will make it easier for residents from right across the borough to attend appointments for screening, and this in turn means disease can be picked up earlier and treated when there is better chance of a good outcome. Access to testing means people can manage their health conditions better, and live a better quality life as a result. This is a great example of how towns need to think differently about the services in their town centre and embed health and wellbeing services and uses at the heart of the design of town centres going forward.”

Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for Transformation, NHS England and NHS Improvement said:

“It’s fantastic to see a Community Diagnostic Centre in Barnsley town centre. These diagnostic centres at the focal point of communities, closer to people’s homes, are essential to diagnose a range of conditions quicker including cancer, heart and lung disease, ensuring patients are treated faster.

“We will continue to establish innovative ways of working for the future to help us tackle the backlog and offer patients better access to healthcare.”

The development of the CDC has brought together a wide range of local and regional organisations to ensure the needs of local communities are being met. This has really been very much a team effort with a single focus – improving access to diagnostic services for the people of Barnsley and the region.

What are Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs)

The creation of CDCs was recommended following Professor Sir Mike Richards’ Review of NHS diagnostics capacity as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The recommendation was that NHS organisations across England move to providing diagnostic services in Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) and all health systems are expected to include a network of CDCs as part of their health offer.

The review’s proposals will help save lives and improve people’s quality of life for health conditions including cancer, stroke, heart disease and respiratory conditions.

The CDCs will allow patients to access planned diagnostic care nearer to home without the need to attend acute hospital sites. These services will be separate to urgent diagnostic scan facilities, which means shorter waiting times and a reduced risk of cancellation, which can happen when more urgent cases take priority. This will lead to an improved experience and better outcome for patients.

Putting it simply, CDCs will provide access to diagnostic services closer to people’s homes which is essential to diagnose a range of conditions quicker including cancer, heart and lung disease, ensuring patients are treated faster.

CDCs have delivered over one million checks and tests in over 90 locations since the rollout began.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System

The funding for the diagnostics centre at The Glass Works was secured by South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYBICS), which was given funding from NHS England for two such facilities in South Yorkshire. This development has a capital budget of just under £3m.

The vision for CDCs across the Integrated Care System, developed by the SY CDC Group is to establish a network of centres (hubs and spokes) that are system resources, developed in collaboration with the diagnostic networks for Imaging, Pathology and Endoscopy to:

  • increase networked diagnostic capacity as the system to aid planned diagnostic and elective recovery and meet future diagnostic demand
  • enable delivery of rapid diagnostic pathways and the cancer faster diagnosis standard
  • improve equity of access to planned diagnostics
  • contribute to reducing health inequalities
  • contribute to improving population health outcomes

South Yorkshire has £31M capital CDC allocation over the next 3 years to develop new and existing facilities in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

The Glass Works and Barnsley Markets

The Glass Works, Barnsley’s newest public space in the town centre, was unveiled early in September 2021 as an exciting new location for retail, leisure and food and drink. Development is now moving into its final phase which will comprise of new restaurants such as Nando’s and a 13-screen Cineworld multiplex.

The historic Barnsley Markets had already moved into its new home back in 2018, and was later followed by the new state-of-the-art Library @ the Lightbox and independent food court Market Kitchen in 2019. More recently Sports Direct, T.K. Maxx, Next, USC, JD Sports and Deichmann shops as well as the new Superbowl UK bowling venue have also opened as part of the scheme.

A new public square that connects The Glass Works with the transport interchange and the wider town centre opened earlier in the year which has since opened up the heart of Barnsley town centre like never before. The square serves as a destination in its own right, with outdoor seating from the town’s new restaurants and leisure venues spilling out around its border and regular vibrant community and cultural events planned.