Community Diagnostic Centre Update

I recently chaired a panel hosted by solictors Browne Jacobson about CDCs. The panel combined service providers such as Alliance Medical, Architects, property advisers and investors, and the NHS. We were given a virtual tour of Alliance’s impressive CDC at Oldham.

I struggled to get good data on CDCs for the Diagnostics UK Market Report – 2nd Edition – LaingBuisson but best estimates at the meeting are: there are c120 CDCs in or close to operation out of the original target of c160; of these 30 are new facilities with the other 90 rebadged as CDCs; of the 30, 13 are led by independent sector operators, of which 6 are operational and 7 are in progress.

Some other interesting observations at the meeting:

  • There are plans for more independent sector involvement in the next wave of up to 10 treasury funded CDCs
  • Attempts to use empty retail sites as CDCs have generally failed (with exceptions such as the old Beale’s store in Poole) as it is generally very difficult to repurpose retail buildings for imaging etc
  • The requirements of what a CDC needs to do to qualify for funding (eg min 29K tests pa) have led to some compromises. For example, many areas would like to have added more outpatient consultation rooms to CDCs to create one-stop shops (and reduce parking pressure on acute sites)
  • The NHS is generally paying 10-15% above tariff for CDC services as it isn’t possible to get costs below tariff

Other health systems have undertaken much more outpatient and diagnostic activity away from acute sites. Few Germans for example go to a hospital for this type of activity, and their ‘CDCs’ are often located in places convenient to patients with lots of parking (eg at football grounds where the footballers can use the imaging equipment, therapy and gyms). After a slow start, the CDC programme appears to be progressing.

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