The Future of Diagnostics: Home and Away

Breakout session report

On the 17th March, the Diagnostics North East 2023 conference was held at The Catalyst in Newcastle, providing a perfect platform to promote discussion and engagement on important challenges facing the diagnostics sector.

A series of interactive breakout sessions held throughout the day aimed to stimulate debate and promote open conversations, including the afternoon workshop session on “The Future of Diagnostics: Home and Away” – led by Dr Vicky McFarlane-Reid, Executive Director for Business, Development and Enterprise, at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Prof Dawn Craig, Director at the NIHR Innovation Observatory, Newcastle University.

Held in the venue’s TED lecture, the workshop outlined the current state of play in hospital diagnostics and the strength of the diagnostic innovation pipeline.

The conversation actively challenged how we can better support a pull of diagnostic innovation into the NHS in areas of unmet need.

Discussion was lively and diverse, ranging from the sharing of Innovation Observatory intelligence on areas of unmet need, to better integration between the groups and teams that provide diagnostics within the Trust.

Participants had strong views on the need to enable more innovative and transformative ways of increasing diagnostic capacity; raising questions as to whether NHS England Community Diagnostics Centres would support this, or just move the delivery setting of tests already in play? And whether as a region we can do anything to unblock the shortage of notified bodies.

Of note, there was a real appetite for collaboration– with suggestions put forwards around linking DxNE stakeholders with key strategic partners to ensure future success.  Case studies were also requested, to share and celebrate regional success stories to support further regional innovation and investment to support patient health.

There were also questions raised around enablers and barriers to diagnostic innovation and the integrated diagnostic agenda, including discussions around the workforce, restructuring requests from NHS England.

It was debated whether there are clear routes for industry, if multiple tests are in place for the same thing, and around equity of access.


Prof Dawn Craig said:

“The workshop sessions enabled many different views to be shared on the impact of different factors on diagnostic innovation. Although views varied, it was clear from the discussions that there is considerable appetite from attendees to work together to deliver innovative diagnostics in areas where they are most needed by the NHS and patients”.

If we can harness this enthusiasm and collaborate across the landscape then there is an opportunity for the NE to lead the country into an era where diagnostic innovation meets patient needs, targets NHS bottlenecks, and places prevention and early diagnosis at the top of the agenda”.