Jonathan Lord MP rightly points out in his latest circular that the new Community Diagnostic Centre in Woking will save patients the trouble of travelling to St Peter’s or Ashford Hospitals.

However, neither this nor a pandemic backlog are the actual reasons for building this facility.

The reality is that NHS performance has been falling since 2010, according to a 2023 King’s Fund report. Lower funding increases, limited funds for capital investment and neglect of workforce planning are to blame for the NHS failing to hit key waiting time targets since 2014, long before the pandemic hit.

Chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease consume enormous amounts of NHS resource. Earlier diagnosis and treatment are key to improving patients’ lives, slowing or stopping illness and disability progression and reducing the burden on the NHS.

NHS England commissioned a 2019 report from Prof Sir Mike Richards on the state of NHS diagnostic services. This confirmed that the UK had been allowed to fall behind many countries on the provision of diagnostic imaging equipment.

Prof Richards advised there was an urgent need to rapidly establish community diagnostic hubs away from acute hospital sites “to provide highly productive elective diagnostic centres for cancer, cardiac, respiratory and other conditions”.

By undertaking elective procedures for these chronic conditions, these centres will free up hospital resources for acute, emergency diagnostic services, taking some of the pressure off hospital based services. Community Diagnostic Centres are going to play a vital role if better health outcomes such as the cancer target are to be met.

The Woking Community Diagnostic Centre is therefore one of 153 such centres being set up across England as part of this initiative. The urgent need for this centre was recognised by Cllr Will Forster’s motion, passed by the council in early 2023, for Woking Borough Council to fully support this NHS project.

Whilst providing greater convenience to Woking’s residents, the centre is being built to improve and save lives, improve NHS efficiency and reverse some of the damage caused by the policies and underfunding of Jonathan Lord’s government.

Cllr Steve Greentree

Cavell Way, Knaphill