The UK’s Department of Health has injected an extra £4 million into the NHS to improve the way diseases are diagnosed.

The National Institute for Health Research will share the funding across four NHS organisations in: London, Leeds, Newcastle and Oxford. These places will become national centres of expertise called ‘NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operatives’. 

Every year over 16 million diagnostic tests are carried out across the NHS, and the new money will fund research that looks at the way a number of different diseases are diagnosed, with the aim of getting patients access to treatments more quickly.

The UK Government says that faster and better diagnosis can be lifesaving for patients and the use of clinical research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients “is a priority” for the UK. 

These centres will promote research into medical tests used to diagnose diseases including cancer, liver and respiratory diseases, so patients across the NHS can benefit from advances in technology.

NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operatives will bring together a wide-range of experts and specialists from across the NHS and industry, including clinicians and other healthcare professionals, patients, NHS commissioners and researchers.

Their aim is to investigate a number of different clinical areas:

•    London: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will be looking at cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases, and metabolic medicine

•    Leeds: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will be exploring liver, musculoskeletal and renal diseases 

•    Newcastle: Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust will be testing the effectiveness of new diagnostics tests for cancer, cardiovascular, liver,  musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases, stroke, genetics, infections, and transplantation

•    Oxford: Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will be identifying and evaluating diagnostic tests which will bring the newest medical technology across a range of common diseases like diabetes, into primary care, including GP services.

This announcement supports the government’s ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’, which aims to provide a better environment for life sciences, improve the lives of patients and contribute to the UK’s economic growth.

Health minister Lord Howe said: “We know that faster and better diagnosis of diseases can be lifesaving and can ensure that patients get the most appropriate treatments more quickly.

“The UK is already a leading force in health research, inventing new technologies to improve the lives and healthcare of patients. This funding will provide researchers with the support needed to ensure that this country continues to be at the forefront of healthcare research.”