In February 2024, Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) undertook an ‘Enter and View’ review of the Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) in Bexhill, operated by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) to investigate the on-the-ground experiences of patients and staff.

As part of the process, we also undertook a ’15 steps challenge’ to understand what service users and carers experience when they first arrive in a healthcare setting.

Setting up Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) is a flagship policy for the NHS and crucial part of the Elective Care Recovery Plan. CDCs aim to transform diagnostics in England by reducing the pressure on acute services, ringfencing resources for elective diagnostics, and increasing diagnostic capacity.


By Healthwatch East Sussex
Enter and View ESHT

We heard

Overall levels of satisfaction amongst users of Bexhill Community Diagnostic Centre were high, with 85% of patients to our online survey either Very satisfied/Satisfied with their overall experience of their diagnostic test or scan.

We heard that 94% of respondents reported a waiting time of less than 6 weeks for their diagnostic test or scan. A significant majority of patients (73%) were seen within 2 weeks of their referral.

More than half of the people (55%) who completed the patient survey reported being offered a choice about the date and time of their appointment. Fewer patients reported being offered a choice about the location of their test or scan, but many considered waiting time as more important than location.

Staff satisfaction was also high, with the different specialties working collaboratively and developing new pathways to meet patient needs.

All feedback identified the quality of the facilities at Bexhill CDC as a significant factor in the overwhelmingly positive patient experiences. From a patient perspective, the centre is accessible, clean, calm and welcoming. For staff working at the site, the clinical areas are fit for purpose, designed with the patient and procedure in mind.

Access to the CDC site is good, and free parking adjacent to the centre is highly valued by patient. However, there are no parking bays for disabled people who have a Blue Badge, nor designated drop-off points for people arriving by taxi or Non Emergency Patient Transport (NEPTS).

The patient surveys identified that a majority of people (63%) are informed what will happen next after their appointment. A small number of people are not aware of what will happen next, and this was reflected in some qualitative patient feedback.


Our recommendations

We identified 11 recommendations from the feedback we received, all aimed at improving the experiences for patients and users of the Community Diagnostic Centre.

In summary, these seek:

  • Consideration of the accessibility at Bexhill CDC, including the provision disabled parking and taxi/NEPTS drop off points, as well wider linkages to public transport services. This learning should also be applied to the future creation of other CDC sites.
  • Improved information about the location of Bexhill CDC to address the issue of patients confusing it with Bexhill Hospital, potentially utilising the positive feedback of patients using the Bexhill CDC service, and the positive attributes of the site.
  • Improved signage and signposting in the Bexhill CDC reception area, and consideration of the installation of a patient information board and electronic patient feedback centre.
  • Exploration by health and care commissioners of how being offered a choice of date and time for appointments could potentially apply to the delivery of other health services.
  • Consideration of how CDC staff and other health professional communicate the next steps and follow up after patients’ diagnostic visit, including who is responsible for subsequent clinical decision making.


What we did

Healthwatch East Sussex volunteers and staff attended Bexhill Community Diagnostic Centre between the hours on 9am and 5pm, and undertook a tour of the site, before completing an accessibility audit and NHS England’s Fifteen Steps Challenge to record their initial impressions on the following attributes: welcoming; safe, caring and involving; well organised and calm.

We engaged with 27 patients and carers about their experience of accessing Bexhill CDC, with a focus on their experience of the test or scan, their journey to the site, getting their appointment, their expectations, and their views on their protected characteristics. In parallel we also ran a short online survey to capture the public’s experiences of Bexhill CDC and heard 39 people’s experiences.

We also spoke to 8 members of staff working at Bexhill CDC to seek their views about working at the centre, including what staff liked about working at the CDC, what works well, what could make their working life better, and what would improve the patient journey.


Response from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

“We’d like to thank Healthwatch East Sussex for visiting and undertaking an enter and view at our Community Diagnostic Centre, this is another example of our objective to work in partnership with Healthwatch East Sussex to improve our services for local communities.

The team at the Community Diagnostic Centre will take forward the recommendations made by Healthwatch.”


Next steps

As the public champion for local health and care services, Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work in partnership with commissioners and providers to monitor the experiences of patients and the public in accessing health and care services locally and explore how ongoing improvements may be delivered.

We have shared the report with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) so that they can use the learning to inform the operation of Community Diagnostic Centre moving forwards.

We will also send it to East Sussex County Council, NHS Sussex, Healthwatch England and others to share this insight and encourage its incorporation into future initiatives.


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View the report

Click the link below to download the report

HWES - Experiences of Bexhill Community Diagnostic Centre - Enter and View - Full Report 2024 Download File (pdf 1.61 MB)
HWES - Experiences of Bexhill Community Diagnostic Centre - Enter and View - Summary Report 2024 Download File (pdf 602.81 KB)

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