Diagnostic activity forms part of over 85% of clinical pathways.

Imaging, pathology and genomic laboratories have played a key role in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Diagnostics capacity has emerged as one of the main enablers for restoring patient services as part of the recovery and has been a priority focus of the Adopt and Adapt initiative.

As highlighted in the NHS Long Term Plan, diagnostics is also central to delivering many of the key clinical commitments, from improving cancer diagnosis and treatment to early detection and prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

Demand for almost all aspects of diagnostics has been rising year on year and for some diagnostic modalities demand was outstripping capacity before the pandemic. This was impacting on achievement of diagnostic waiting times standards, with knock-on effects on cancer and elective care. There is widespread consensus that demand will continue to rise.

The rise in demand has been driven partly by increases in activity across many aspects of acute hospital activity, with particular increases in demand from urgent referrals for cancer (10% p.a.) and from A&E for imaging. Wider indications for tests such as CT scanning are also fuelling demand.

Within diagnostics is our Rapid Diagnostic Service and Community Diagnostic Hubs, the establishment of CDHs provides an opportunity for the provision of a broad range of elective diagnostic services outside of acute (A&E/inpatient) provision in non-traditional locations, supporting equity in access to the range of populations they will serve. More can be seen on our RDS on the project tab.