Barnsley: creating a diagnostic hub in new retail and leisure centre

In Barnsley the hospital trust and council have worked together to create a diagnostic unit in the new retail and leisure centre, which has been developed as part of a £200 million regeneration of the town centre.

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In Barnsley the hospital trust and council have worked together to create a diagnostic unit in the new retail and leisure centre, which has been developed as part of a £200 million regeneration of the town centre.

The diagnostic unit will provide local people with access to a range tests and scans and help reduce the backlog in planned care that has developed during the pandemic.

The big brands – and a health clinic

At the heart of Barnsley town centre’s regeneration is The Glass Works, a new retail and leisure destination, which incorporates shops, a bowling alley, cinema, restaurants, bars and an indoor and outdoor market.

But as well as hosting brands such as Next, TK Maxx and Cineworld, The Glass Works is also home to health and wellbeing services as the council and Barnsley NHS Trust have worked together to bring support out into the community.

The stop smoking service has a stall in the market, which the healthy lifestyle advisers work from several days a week to complement the clinics they run at the hospital and in community locations.

But next on the list is a high-tech diagnostics unit. The centre – one of the government’s network of new community clinics – will be open seven days a week when it fully launches in the summer and will be able to provide nearly three million scans a year. With access to the 670 parking spaces in The Glass Works car park, it is seen as a more convenient way for patients to receive ultrasound, X-ray, breast screening, phlebotomy and bone density scans.

A multi-disciplinary team of staff will be relocated from the hospital to work at the site and allow the NHS trust to treat those most in need. Access will be by referral and appointments, rather than drop-in. Local GPs will also be able to refer their patients to the clinic so their patients can access tests closer to home.

Barnsley Hospital Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Delivery Officer Bob Kirton said: “During the pandemic we moved some services, such as phlebotomy, off the hospital site to reduce the numbers of people having to come into the hospital. It worked well and showed what can be done to improve access for people.

The hospital is fairly central, but it is still quite a walk from the town centre and parking is limited. The Glass Works is much better located. It is where the main bus and train inter-changes are and it is a location people are using all the time.

“We’re delighted with the location. The Glass Works is perfect for our patients and will mean people will not have to spend so much time travelling to and from the hospital for these important appointments. We have done some public engagement exercises and the public has been really enthusiastic.”

Working hand-in-hand with the council

The launch of the service, which will start offering some services in April before it fully opens in June, was only made possible because of the close partnership with the council. A working group was established at the start of the year to oversee the creation of the unit, including teams from the hospital, council, commissioners and the public

“The support from the council was fantastic,” said Mr Kirton. “There were so many logistical issues to sort out from planning and security to ensuring the kit and equipment could be housed at the site. Right from the start we worked hand-in-hand with the council – we could all see how important offering a service like this in this location was.

Because all Barnsley health and care organisations and the council could see the opportunity and potential benefit, we worked together to keep the wheels turning and overcome any obstacles. It’s part of a whole system approach to improve access to health and care in Barnsley, in order to do more to address the public health needs and health inequalities that areas such as Barnsley are facing.

Council Leader, Sir Steve Houghton, said he is delighted with the development: “The Glass Works is a superb location for the new diagnostic clinic. It’s convenient, central location will make it easier for Barnsley residents to get health scans more efficiently and will help reduce NHS waiting lists and improve overall care.

Complementary and diversifying services such as the NHS clinic will help support the vitality of our town centre. It is just another great way to bring people right into the heart of Barnsley, growing the town centre community and of course, supporting our local and national businesses. While they’re here, we hope they explore our new and existing restaurants, shops, art galleries and famous markets.

The funding for the diagnostics unit at The Glass Works was secured by South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYBICS), which was given funding from NHS England for two hubs in South Yorkshire. This development has a capital budget of just under £3m.

The other diagnostics clinic is at Montagu Hospital in Mexborough. Mobile MRI and CT scanners have been moved to the site and there will now be further investment in ultrasound and endoscopy capabilities before improvements to phlebotomy and cardiorespiratory services.

Dr Andrew Snell, a public health consultant at Barnsley NHS Trust, a joint appointment with the council, said: “We know we have to make services more accessible. Between the east and the west of the borough there is a eight-year gap in life expectancy.

“Access to services is a key factor so what we have tried to do is to make services more convenient. The smoking cessation stall at the market is a good example of that – it is about taking services out to where people are and where we can help influence usage.

The diagnostic unit is a further development. We want to see how it works, but moving forward I can envisage that we will be looking at what else can be located in The Glass Works or out in the communities and neighbourhoods, closer to where we all go about our day-to-day lives. The potential is huge.

Contact details

Andy Leppard

Communications Lead

Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust

[email protected]