New NHS centre in Wembley aims to bring down waiting times and help tackle health inequalities
The second of three community diagnostic centres for north west London was officially opened in Wembley yesterday, Thursday 1 February 2024. The three NHS centres aim to bring down waiting times by together offering around 180,000 diagnostic tests for cancer and other serious illnesses each year. Located on existing NHS sites close to significant clusters of deprivation, they also aim to help reduce health inequalities.
The purpose-built Wembley Community Diagnostic Centre will run seven days a week, 8am-8pm, and will offer over 30,000 tests each year. The centres are part of a national programme initiated by a major review of diagnostic services in 2020 led by Professor Sir Mike Richards. Professor Richards was on hand to help cut the ribbon on the official opening day, along with Brent councillors Neil Nerva and Ketan Sheth, local MP Barry Gardiner and NHS leaders and staff.
The Wembley Community Diagnostic Centre is run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust who also manage the first centre which opened in Willesden last summer. The third centre, in Ealing, is due to open later this spring and will be managed by London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust. Both trusts are part of the North West London Acute Provider Collaborative, supporting hospitals across the sector to work together more closely to benefit patients, local communities and staff.
Work on the Wembley site started in April 2023, with a modular build allowing the centre to be operational within ten months.
As well as the centres focusing on combating health inequalities across north west London, they are all in well-known, convenient locations to make it easier and less daunting for local people to get checks, scans and tests. This is especially important for Brent where, for example, the mortality rate from all cardiovascular disease is worse than the England average. High blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack but it can be managed and treated once it is detected. This is why diagnostic services are so important.
Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It’s fantastic to have been able to open this second new diagnostic centre. Bringing care closer to people’s homes means faster diagnosis, which means quicker treatment and, we hope, a much better experience for everyone.”
Dr Amrish Mehta, clinical director for imaging in north west London, said: “Community diagnostic centres are all about doing things differently and the delivery of this site, which was just a car park ten months ago, has epitomised that ethos.
“A huge thank you to the many people and teams who have worked so hard to make this state-of-the-art centre a reality, including Imaging Matters, Brent Council, NHS Property Services and of course all the staff working here now.
“It’s an extraordinary achievement and I know will make a difference to many, many people in the local community in the years to come.”
Mark Toro, who is 41 and works in the aviation industry, was attending the centre for an MRI scan during the opening. He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2011, a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed, and has annual follow-up checks and scans.
Mark said: "Crohn's disease has had a big impact on my life, particularly before my diagnosis in 2011. I was losing a lot of weight and was really tired all the time, which forced me to pause my degree.
"I'm in a much better place now, with support from the teams around me, friends and family. I had a follow-up MRI scan at the Wembley Community Diagnostic Centre today for the first time, as part of my annual checks. The process was exactly the same as when I’ve had scans in the hospital but felt more relaxed — everything ran on-time and it was more comfortable.
"I'm very grateful to all the staff here for looking after me so well."
For more information about the centres, visit: www.nwl-acute-provider-collaborative.nhs.uk