An ‘ambitious’ new centre offering diagnostic tests to identify illnesses such as cancer quicker is to be up and running in Oldham next year.
The council’s planning department has approved proposals to construct a community diagnostic hub on land to the north of Salmon Fields in Royton.
The single-storey building will contain a variety of scanning equipment, including machines to carry out MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds and lung testing.
The centre is one of 40 that are being set up around the country, and bosses say they believe it is one of the most ‘ambitious’ schemes coming forward.
Chiefs say the new facility could mean people can get scanning appointments quicker and consequently begin treatment earlier.
Director of planning and delivery at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, Barney Schofield told councillors: “Increasing the availability of diagnostic tests delivered in community settings is one of the key central elements of national healthcare policy.
“And that now reconciles very well with our pre-existing local ambition to make diagnostic tests more accessible to people with shorter waiting times, delivered away from main hospital sites and delivering a far more convenient patient experience.
“I think it’s because of this well articulated existing local vision that we’ve secured a place as one of 40 first wave front-runner community diagnostic centres to be set up across the NHS in England.
“And of those 40 I strongly believe that this centre in Oldham is one of the two or three most ambitious schemes that’s of the keenest interest to national bodies in how we move it forward.”
He said the centre will contain a range of advanced diagnostic testing including MRI scanning, CT scanning, lung testing, and ultrasound.
And it will also contain, for the first time within the Oldham area of Greater Manchester, PET-CT scanning which is among the ‘most advanced diagnostics which the NHS has to offer’.
“It can track the microscopic spread of cancer for instance,” Mr Schofield added.
“The combined impact of this means that we will be able to deliver faster access to diagnostic tests so diagnose disease more quickly enabling it to be treated.
“I think in time the ambition is to diagnose disease at an earlier stage of progression therefore greatly improves the survival chances of patients.
“We’ll target a number of conditions; cancer, cardio-vasscular disease, respiratory illnesses for example. All of those are major issues for the Oldham population and disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged members of the population.”
He told councillors that one of the conditions of being a ‘front-runner’ was that they mobilise the development ‘very quickly’ and planning approval would allow them to have the centre up and running in 2022 to deliver ‘really meaningful benefits to the people of OLdham and beyond’.
Planning officer Martyn Leigh said the proposal would form the first phase of a larger development on the site. The indicative plans would include 61 parking spaces at the facility.
“The benefits associated with this site are the expanded provision of medical facilities but it would also result in job opportunities on the site,” he said.
“This is a proposed facility on a temporary basis for up to five years.”
Committee chair Councillor Peter Dean added: “This is the first phase of a wider diagnostic centre that I personally feel is a very significant community use.
“We’re just pleased to realise there’s going to be improved treatment and faster treatment one hopes.”
At a cabinet meeting this week town hall leaders also approved a 50 year lease of the land, which is council owned, to the Northern Care Alliance NHS group.
Under the terms of the lease for the whole site, part of the land would remain as open space to protect existing homes on Turf Lane and Thomas Street.
Council leader Arooj Shah said: “The purpose of the report is to approve a 50-year lease of the land at Salmon Fields Royton to the Northern Care Alliance NHS group for use as a community diagnostic and healthcare facility.
“And the Northern Care Alliance have requested that the site be flexible to accommodate any future expansions for services at that site which I don’t think members would have any issues with.”