COMMUNITY Diagnostics Centres are now up and running in the Black Country to help patients access diagnostic testing quickly in Covid-secure locations thanks to an £8million funding boost.

NHS leaders in the Black Country and West Birmingham have managed to secure the funding to help speed up the recovery of diagnostic services in the area.

The successful funding bid will deliver new equipment and extra staff sessions at local NHS trusts, as part of a national drive to help services recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.

The local diagnostic recovery plan will see the extra money being used to invest in new MRI and CT scanners and to fund extra staff sessions to deliver around 46,000 new tests in the community.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust has established a hub at Corbett Outpatients Centre in Stourbridge, with an additional satellite centre at the Guest Outpatients Centre in Dudley.

Patients will be able to attend at Corbett for MRI and CT scans, seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm.

X-ray hours will also be extended to run from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

So far the new community diagnostics centre in Stourbridge has been able to see more than 400 patients a week from across the region, with more than 300 having both CT and MRI scans done together at the same appointment – the first time this has been possible at Corbett Outpatient Centre.

The investment means the Trust is now on target to recover its diagnostic services to where they should be by the end of the year.

Without the extra cash and creation of the diagnostics hubs this would not have been possible, health chiefs have said, given the impact the Covid crisis has had on services.

Jonathan Fellows, chairman designate of the Black Country Integrated Care System, said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff, and the success of the vaccine programme, in recent months we have been able to provide far more planned care for people with non-Covid concerns than we were able to during the first wave of the pandemic.

“The mission now is to increase this activity further, ensuring that as many people as possible get the tests and treatment they need, prioritising those with the most urgent clinical need, addressing the longest waiters, and being mindful of the health inequalities Covid-19 highlighted.”

Dudley Group chief executive Diane Wake, elective care lead for the Black Country and West Birmingham, said: “I recognise how important it is to get diagnostic tests done as quickly as possible and right now too many people are waiting longer than we would like. The funding will be used locally to add capacity to our diagnostic centres in Cannock and across Dudley meaning thousands of local people will be able to get a test sooner than they otherwise might.

“As an early adopter site we will also help provide learning for the whole country on how to continue the momentum on recovery further in a resilient way for both our staff and other services.”