I have long championed the idea of health on the high street. That is why I welcome the submission of a planning application for the new Community Diagnostics Centre on the Colin Campbell Court car park by Derriford Hospital.
The disappointment of the government pulling funding for the super health hub has been replaced with a new determination from me, the city council and the local NHS to build a new health village.
What is a health village? It is a series of buildings and facilities in the city centre that puts health on the high street, creates more accessible healthcare and enables people to get routine support, scans, treatment and help without having to make the journey to Derriford Hospital. At a time when community GPs are closing, the health village will offer more centrally located health facilities and give a new reason for people to visit the city centre helping the shops, restaurants and cafes.
The proposed Community Diagnostic Centre will allow people to receive early tests and diagnosis. Ahead of this new building opening, a temporary CT scanner unit at Colin Campbell Court is already seeing 250 patients each week.
The new facility will reduce health inequities for those living in areas of greater deprivation in Plymouth and improve overall health outcomes.
CT scans involve a series of x-rays which allow Radiologists to detect disease or injury as early as possible. The benefits include reducing the need for exploratory surgeries, improving cancer diagnosis, and helping to determine treatment of injury, cardiac disease and stroke.
The permanent Community Diagnostic Centre will also offer MRI, x-ray, lung cancer screening, audiology, point of care testing and Physiological measurement tests such as ECG and EEG.
One reason I want to see more investment in health in the city centre is to address the poor health outcomes for the communities around Stonehouse. People living in St Peter and the Waterfront ward have a life expectancy of 77 years, which is roughly 7.5 years less than the least deprived area in Plymouth. The city centre has a mortality rate of 62.2 for cancer, CHD (coronary heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and stroke (rate per 10,000 population), and Stonehouse has a rate of 93 – the average across the city is much lower at 55.1. This type of investment delivers a step change in care and access to support and is one of the reasons why I have been so vocal over so long about the health village.
I am pleased to lend this project my full support. I have been discussing it with the city council and the NHS for many months and with UHP and the city council all backing it, I hope work can begin shortly. If approved, it is hoped that construction will commence in 2024 and patients will benefit from this new facility in 2025.
Cabinet Member for Finance and City Centre Champion Councillor Mark Lowry said:
“This is a huge step in the right direction, and we are working together on the longer-term plans so that the West End can get the health facilities the area so desperately needs. The hospital is already providing services to help people living nearby get tests more easily. It’s been quite a journey, but we have a strong partnership, land that is shovel ready and the funding.”
Councillor Mary Aspinall, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said:
“Anything that makes it easier for people to get a diagnosis as early as possible has to be a good thing. The earlier people get diagnosed the better their chances of recovery or managing health issues.”
Read more about health on the high street:
In March this year I published a set of Plymouth White Papers on health where I championed the idea of health being a key role of our city centre. You can read the ten essays on it here: https://www.lukepollard.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/154/2023/03/Plymouth-White-Paper-2023-Health-1.pdf