A target to open 160 cancer community diagnostic centres is on track to be hit a year early, Steve Barclay has announced.
The Health Secretary said all planned centres would be open by March.
Some 127 are already operating in locations such as shopping centres, university campuses and football stadiums.
They have delivered more than five million tests and scans since July 2021.
Mr Barclay said: “Patients deserve the highest quality care, and community diagnostic centres have been instrumental in speeding up the diagnosis of illnesses like cancer and heart disease to ensure patients are treated more quickly.
“I’m delighted we will open 160 CDCs a year early, allowing greater access to high tech scans and diagnostics in communities across England.”
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The Health Secretary added that the achievement had been made possible by “using all capacity available to us and drawing on the independent sector”.
Thirteen of the centres will be led by the private sector, and a further 22 will be located on the NHS estate where the independent sector is providing diagnostic services.
Charlotte Wickens, policy adviser at The King’s Fund, said the expansion was welcome but the diagnostic centres “are yet to realise their potential”.
She added: “Only 6.3% of tests during August 2023 were carried out in CDCs and between March and August 2023, CDCs carried out over 700,000 tests. There is a long way to go in terms of building capacity before meeting the ambition of 17 million tests by March 2025.”
Ms Wickens said many centres had been opened on existing NHS sites rather than in more accessible locations, meaning they “may not be as responsive to health inequalities and deprivation as they were intended to be”.
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