A ground-breaking event signalled the start of building work on a new NHS Tees Valley health centre offering health checks, tests, and scans.
The event marked the first spade going in the ground in the construction of the centre on the site of the former Castlegate Shopping Centre in Stockton town ventre.
The centre will provide rapid tests for a range of health issues including cancer, heart, and lung disease.
The event attracted representatives from organisations leading the scheme, including North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, and NTH Solutions.
It also involved figures from building contractor, Kier, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, and local MPs Matt Vickers and Alex Cunningham.
This is the latest milestone in our ambition to provide faster and more-accessible diagnostic services for our population across the Tees Valley
And local Stockton woman, Susan Parr, was invited along as special guest as she was one of the first patients to be treated as a diagnostic patient when another part of the community-based service started at Lawson Street Health Centre in Stockton.
The 63 year old, said: “I remember being surprised to be told that I could receive a scan at the health centre rather than in a hospital.
“I was in and out in no time at all. It was so convenient and quick.
“This diagnostic facility is fantastic news for Stockton. It will not only help people like me get the answers they need to any health issues, but also help in the regeneration of the area.”
Phil Woolfall, clinical director for radiology at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, added: “This is the latest milestone in our ambition to provide faster and more-accessible diagnostic services for our population across the Tees Valley.
“This diagnostic centre will help make healthcare available for all – offering rapid access to scans, tests, and health checks.
This new centre will give both health trusts the exciting opportunity to expand capacity and move some of the care we provide off the acute hospital sites
“It is also exciting in that it is a joint programme run by the area’s two health trusts and a multi-professional team of health experts from both.”
And Richard Hartley, consultant radiologist at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Diagnostic centres are the future of healthcare.
“This new centre will give both health trusts the exciting opportunity to expand capacity and move some of the care we provide off the acute hospital sites.
“The centre will also not only help improve health outcomes for our population but also to regenerate the town centre and surrounding area.”
The site will provide a number of diagnostic functions including MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasound scans, cardiology, X-rays, blood tests, and respiratory checks.
Based in community settings such as towns, shopping centres, and football stadiums, they house a range of equipment, including MRI, CT, X-ray, and ultrasound scanners and offer services including blood tests or heart rhythm and blood pressure monitoring.
The diagnostic centre is expected to open in summer 2024.