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Health on the high street - Public Health Wales opens first high street screening centre.

Published: 15 August 2022

Public Health Wales’ has opened its doors to the first screening centre of its kind on a high street in Wales. 

The dedicated screening centre is part of a brand new approach to help boost accessibility and uptake of screening, post Covid-19 and houses multiple screening services all under one roof.  

Based in Mountain Ash, the centre is the result of a person centred, partnership approach supported by Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, and has been designed with public accessibility as a priority, making it easier for people to attend screening appointments. 

Public Health Wales hopes this new model can be the blue print for the future of health screening in Wales. It is the first time that the trust has leased and rejuvenated a building specifically to offer multiple screening programmes under one roof, in the heart of the community. It brings together services for three national programmes: diabetic eye, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and newborn hearing screening. Just under 8,000 people will be invited to screening at the centre in its first year.  

By taking screening onto the high street, the aim is to make it easier for people to attend appointments. With easy transport links nearby, the centre also offers more flexible appointments, allowing people to attend at a wider range of times outside the usual 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. It will provide increased screening capacity to the local authority areas of Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr and Caerphilly. 

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan MS will attend the official opening of the centre at Rhos House, Oxford Street, Mountain Ash today at 10.30am, along with senior executives of Public Health Wales and Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.  

The new screening centre contributes to the Welsh Government’s commitment to deliver better public access to health professionals. 

Minister for Health, Eluned Morgan, said:

“I’m delighted to officially open the new centre, screening plays a vital role and anything that makes it more convenient for people to attend appointments is something I very much welcome. I look forward to seeing how the centre progresses and whether the blueprint of a high street location could perhaps be replicated in other parts of Wales.” 

Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive, Public Health Wales said:

“This dedicated screening centre is the first multi screening service to be located at the centre of the community that it serves and has a huge potential to be a model for the future of health screening.  

“It will offer daily diabetic eye screening and participants will also be able to access short-notice cancellation appointment slots, greatly increasing the capacity of the service. 

“As with all of our screening programmes, it is really important that people take up their invitations when they receive them. By doing so, it allows those identified to be at increased risk of a disease or illness to be offered further information, tests and appropriate treatment”. 

Jan Williams, Board Chair, Public Health Wales said:

“Moving onto the High Street will hopefully improve access for a number of people who might have found it hard to reach other venues in the past, and we look forward to hearing from them about that.”  

Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said:

“I am pleased to see this innovative multi-screening model coming to fruition in Mountain Ash and I have no doubt it will make a significant difference for residents in providing easy access to a number of key screening services in the heart of the town. 

“Through the Council’s action in acquiring the former Rhos House surgery building, we have worked in partnership with our long-term tenant, Public Health Wales, to carry out a full re-fit to enable this fantastic regional multi-screening facility to be developed in Mountain Ash, and I am sure the accessible location and flexible appointment hours will greatly benefit people across RCT, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly in accessing vital screening services.” 

The building has been refurbished to a bespoke design with a focus on ensuring that it is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Examples of how this has been achieved include the re-use of carpet tiles and furniture from previous Public Health Wales offices, as well as the provision of additional workspace, providing staff with the option to work more locally, rather than travel to offices further afield.