ROYAL Oldham Hospital is one of 40 places in England set to open a multi-million-pound diagnostic centre before March 2022.

The centres are a part of the Government's attempts to tackle waiting lists for checks, scans and tests which have grown in the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic, sometimes leaving serious illnesses such as cancer undiagnosed.

Based in a range of places including hospitals, but also football stadiums and shopping centres, the centres are backed by a £350 million investment to provide around 2.8 million checks, scans and tests in the first full year of operation.

Sajid Javid, the Government's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: "Tackling waiting lists will require new and more innovative ways of delivering the services people need.

"That's why we're making it easier and more convenient to get checked.

"Our community diagnostic centres will bring those crucial checks closer to home including in the communities that need them most.

"They will help enable earlier diagnosis, allowing us to catch cancer and other issues as quickly as possible, and to save more lives."

As well as helping with the early diagnosis of cancer and other serious illnesses, it is hoped the centres will limit pressure on existing hospital departments, especially A&E.

This is because GPs will be able to refer people to the centres directly.

They will also help the NHS towards net-zero emissions by allowing people to get all checks, scans and tests in one place and at one time, rather than making multiple trips.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who recommended the centres in last year's NHS Long Term Plan, said: "The pandemic brought into sharper focus the need to overhaul the way we deliver diagnostic services and so I'm absolutely delighted to see one of the key recommendations of my report becoming a reality for patients so quickly.

"I've no doubt that many people will benefit from these new NHS community diagnostic centres, bringing together many tests in one convenient place."