New clinics are cutting waiting times for patients across Shropshire in need of vital heart tests, it was revealed today.
The service was launched in the county just two months ago by Physiological Measurements Ltd and is already proving a success with patients and clinicians.
Patients can now get an appointment at one of the echocardiogram clinics held in Oswestry within two weeks of being referred by their GP.
The firm was chosen to operate the clinics after a rigorous application process.
Jon Pither, executive director, said: “The clinical level of service we provide is equivalent to that you would experience in a hospital.
“As we are a small independent company focussing on one type of test in this instance and are able to give a high level of individual care in a nice modern and clean environment.
“We are registered with the Care Quality Commission and had a recent inspection that we passed with flying colours.
“The aim of moving certain services out of a hospital setting is to increase patient choice and improve the quality of services by creating a competitive market place.
“GPs have more control over a service and get the results back much sooner than from a hospital.”
Shropshire is one of 20 regions around the country that chose Physiological Measurements Ltd to deliver services on behalf of the NHS so far - representing a share of a patient population of about 20 million people.
People are referred to the clinic by their GP and Physiological Measurements Ltd’s Patient Management Centre contacts the patient directly to arrange the appointment.
Patients have to wait less than two weeks for an appointment and get their GP gets the results within two days of the test being carried out.
Mr Pither said: “The main benefit for all of the clinics is that they are all community-based so patients do not have to travel to hospitals in Telford and Shrewsbury.
“It is about improving access to services and making services easier for patients to access.
“It is also about letting patients know that they can now be offered a choice of where they go for their tests - it is ultimately down to the patient’s preference of where they are referred.”
The clinics are held on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Cardiology Diagnostics Centre, The Old Malt House in Willow Street.
For those who want to drive to the clinic, which has disabled access, there is free parking available or there are bus routes to the town centre.
Mr Pither added: “Demand for our clinics is certainly getting greater and doctors are certainly seeing the benefits of sending their patients to us. It also means less pressure on hospitals if the testing is done elsewhere.”
Any practices which would like more information or to be involved in delivering services with PML should contact the head office on 0870 246 1888.