30 April 2024

Community-Based Testing: Easing Pressure, Improving Outcomes

Community-Based Testing: Easing Pressure, Improving Outcomes image
Image: Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock.com.

David Wells, chief executive of the Institute of Biomedical Science, discusses the advantages of diagnostics-driven healthcare innovation.

During winter, rising cases of infectious disease heap strain on primary care systems across Britain. Local councils and communities bear the brunt of this burden, facing increased service demand and spiralling care home costs. However, a promising solution lies within our grasp: community-based access to diagnostic testing.

The pandemic taught us the power of decentralised and novel access routes to healthcare delivery. By enabling rapid and point of care testing closer to home, we can not only alleviate pressure on primary care but also achieve better overall health outcomes for our communities, through earlier diagnostics and better management of those living with long term conditions.

Recent discussions convened by Abbott and The King's Fund underscored a consensus among a cross section of frontline healthcare leaders – our current model of care, especially during winter, is not sustainable. To move forward, we require enhanced collaboration, integrated digital systems, and more consistent health strategies to reduce inequalities.

A critical unmet need is accessible diagnostics of all types within the community. When individuals can access timely testing near home, they are more likely to follow optimal care pathways designed to keep them healthy and independent. This should include harnessing the expertise of laboratory professionals, including HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) registered biomedical scientists, to advise on optimal testing strategies and interpret results – as this would ensure fewer hospitalisations and reduced strain on council resources.

Unfortunately, annual budget cycles and short-term planning often hinder the adoption of existing technologies that could bolster frontline care. A long-term strategic plan, with targeted investment, would empower Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to deploy diagnostics and access to testing among pharmacists, community nurses, and health assistants – ultimately reducing hospital admissions and keeping more people thriving in the community.

ICBs need clear, patient-focused diagnostics strategies. Additionally, the potential for more central commissioning of certain services could prove transformative.

At a time when the Department of Health and Social Care has been consulting on the way that primary care healthcare incentives shape and drive improvements in the delivery of care, local councils have a pivotal role to play as agents of change. By championing community-based testing, councils can:

• Reduce strain on care homes: Early illness detection and intervention keeps residents healthier and reduces reliance on NHS services.

• Support a thriving workforce: Rapid testing ensures employees stay healthy or return to work safely at a time when a record number of people are off work due to ill health.

• Promote healthier communities: Accessible diagnostics empower individuals to manage their health proactively in line with government prevention and wellness strategies.

The benefits are undeniable. By strategically investing in community-based access to testing, councils can ease the burden on primary care, improve health outcomes within their communities, and build a more resilient and sustainable healthcare system for the future.

The Carer’s Allowance scandal image

The Carer’s Allowance scandal

Government has a choice, says Kirsty McHugh of Carers Trust: continue to rely on the unpaid labour of millions or take action to give a fairer deal to carers.
The new Centre for Young Lives image

The new Centre for Young Lives

Anne Longfield CBE, the chair of the Commission on Young Lives, discusses the launch of the Centre for Young Lives this month.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Building, Property Information and Compliance Manager

City of York Council
£47,760 to £54,463
We are looking for a motivated manager with experience of leading diverse and challenging teams. North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Applications Support Analyst

West Northamptonshire Council
£33,369 - £36,163
Fixed Term Contract until March 2025 (possibility to extend) Join our dynamic team as a 2nd/3rd Line Applications Support Analyst and play a pivotal role in supporting our systems and applications. This second-line position involves handling technical an Northampton
Recuriter: West Northamptonshire Council

Assistant Director for Education

Essex County Council
Assistant Director for EducationPermanent, Full Time£97,874 Per AnnumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Technician NRSWA Inspector

Derbyshire County Council
£27,507 - £29,418 per annum
Within the Highways Directorate we are looking for an enthusiastic, customer focused and experienced person to join the Service Derbyshire
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Strategic Manager SEND

Stoke-on-Trent City Council
£70,999 - £74,630
Want to feel proud of your achievements every day? Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Recuriter: Stoke-on-Trent City Council
Linkedin Banner

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.