PATIENTS in North Sedgemoor can now get blood tests and investigations done locally - rather than travelling 22 miles to do so.

A new community investigations hub has launched at Burnham-on-Sea Hospital, which means patients will no longer need to travel to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton for hospital-related blood tests.

The service is run by the North Sedgemoor primary care network, and assistant practitioner Debbie Sinclair is leading the project.

“Our hub has been up and running at Burnham-on-Sea Hospital since February 2022 and we’ve seen a really big demand from patients so far, which seems to be growing every week," she said.

“Patients have told us that they like the convenience of visiting their local community hospital rather than going into a district general hospital or to their busy GP practice. This is particularly important as we have a high percentage of elderly patients in North Sedgemoor.

“The hub gives them another opportunity to get blood tests and other diagnostic tests done before they next see their consultant, which will save time or additional hospital appointments. It also means the consultant will get their results in a more timely manner, which could mean treatment starts sooner.

“It means that patients can get the right treatment at an earlier time without needing to wait and risk their condition getting worse – it’s both preventative and addresses their health condition.”

The plan in Somerset is to have 13 primary care networks which will also have similar hubs. This is in line with the NHS' move towards giving patients access to diagnostic tests at facilities away from busy district hospitals.

This idea was recommended by former national cancer director Professor Sir Mike Richards in his report on diagnostic centres - Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal.

Julia Holman, the community investigation hub’s programme manager, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to offer this service closer to the homes of people in the North Sedgemoor area.

“Funding was awarded by NHS England to establish health and wellbeing hubs within the Somerset system, and this is the first of more to come.

“In addition, we were also given funding for the service to carry out a series of diagnostic tests, such as spirometry to monitor patients with lung conditions and FeNO testing to diagnose asthma, as well as blood pressure checks and electrocardiograms to check heart rhythm.”