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Stone leaders call for work to improve healthcare services in town as community hubs proposed

New community hubs to help residents get health conditions diagnosed are being planned – but Stone community leaders have said better access to other health services are needed in the town too.


Three or four new community diagnostic hubs are being proposed for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent by the Together We’re Better Partnership, which is leading a massive overhaul of NHS services in the area.

The services at the hubs would be run alongside the diagnostic tests carried out in larger hospitals as well as those carried out by primary and community teams.

A survey is currently being carried out to seek views on the proposals and closes on August 23.

Stone Town Council has been invited to share its thoughts and members had their say at a meeting on Tuesday.

An email to the council from Gary Free, Clinical Lead of the Community Diagnostic Hubs Project at Together We’re Better, said: “Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, we are working to improve diagnostic services – tests to work out what is causing a person’s illness or symptoms – by creating Community Diagnostic Hubs (CDHs).

“At the moment, most of these tests are done in larger acute hospitals, but it is now recommended, as part of national guidance, that NHS organisations across England move to providing these in Community Diagnostic Hubs. This aims to support patients to get the tests they need closer to home.

“We’re working through the national guidance to design a local approach for CDHs the county. We believe this will give patients across the county access to diagnostic services such as acute blood tests, scans, x-rays and imaging more quickly and nearer to home.

“The services provided at these hubs would be elective (planned), so would not change how people access diagnostic services if urgent or emergency care is needed. Elective or planned services could include referrals from your GP for specialist blood tests, x-rays or scans to investigate health complaints and concerns.

“The investment in these enhanced sites would improve the way services are currently provided for people with a range of conditions. In the first instance, this would include those with Long Covid, breathlessness and valve disease symptoms.

“Our plans are at a very early stage, so we are keen to hear from you to help shape how these services could look locally. We want to understand how people currently access diagnostic services, what you think about our emerging proposals, and what else you would like to see provided in CDHs. The answers you give will be important in shaping our plans and the services we provide in the future.”

Stone Town Council members highlighted existing health service access issues on Tuesday.

Councillor Tom Kelt said: “Let’s get people to respond to this survey – hopefully they will come up with something better than we have at the moment.

“Most of these services are provided by acute hospitals which may be difficult for people to get to. Putting one in Stone seems an unlikely development to me but they will get their guidance from the response to the survey.”

Councillor Jim Davies said: “I would like to see Stone as a location for the availability of these diagnostic services to complement the work our GPs already do.

“The biggest problem people have is timeliness getting to see specialists and the dreadful NHS administration. It would be far better sorting out management issues.

“The people in this town deserve something better for the money they pay.”

Councillor Ken Argyle said: “I think it is quite ridiculous to forget what has happened over the last 18 months. Most patients have been ignored by medical professionals and mentally ill people can’t get diagnosed.

“It needs to be better than what it has been. If you ask the average person on the street their response to this particular piece of paper they would almost be incensed by some of the things that have gone on.

“They can’t get appointments, they sit on the end of a phone for two hours or are standing waiting in a pharmacy for 40 to 50 minutes for medication that is difficult to get hold of.”

Councillor Jill Hood said: “The amount of people suffering with mental illness, substance abuse, drug and alcohol issues through this pandemic has got worse. I would say it is almost at epidemic proportions, but can they get diagnosed and can they get an appointment? No.

“The mental health services are so overstretched it’s almost impossible for people to. I’m sure every single one of us knows someone who can’t get diagnosed or an appointment.”

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