Moorfields and UCL open pop-up diagnostic hub at Brent Cross

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL have opened a pop-up diagnostic hub at Brent Cross in North London. The new space, previously a shop, enables some people to be seen closer to their homes, providing a convenient way for them to access diagnostic eye care.

Image shows Professor Paul Forster

Professor Paul Foster, NIHR Moorfields BRC

The NIHR’s primary focus is improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. It does this by funding high-quality, timely research which benefits the NHS, public health and social care.

The diagnostic hub at Brent Cross is part of an NIHR-supported research project aimed at enhancing the delivery of UK and global healthcare. This new eye clinic has been designed by a team of architects and scientists at UCL led by Paul Foster, Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Prof. Foster commented: “This important, innovative eye clinic builds on the decade of research that led to the earlier Moorfields diagnostic hubs.

“Through rigorous research, patient feedback and expert evaluation, we aim to provide data on how to create outpatient diagnostic hubs that are user-friendly, time efficient and socially distanced. This work will help define the principles that will shape healthcare in the UK and globally for the next 50 years.

Over the next few months, the pop-up clinic will be reconfigured several times using moveable ‘smart’ walls and floating electrical and data ‘umbilical cords’. The aim is to establish the most time-efficient and cost-effective layout for patient flow.

An innovative ‘eye-pod’ will also be studied, in which patients will sit and rotate to have tests on different pieces of equipment in a secure, light- and sound-controlled environment.

Researchers at NIHR Moorfields BRC and UCL will use high-power computing to analyse and optimise these patient pathways and the hub layout.

On entering the hub, patients will have a series of high-tech eye tests in an environment that takes its inspiration from high-efficiency commercial settings, such as automotive and aerospace manufacturing. At all times patients will be socially distanced, have far fewer interactions and spend less time indoors, reducing the chance of transmission of Covid-19 and other viruses.

Image shows several testing stations

A testing configuration at the hub

Image shows outside of the pop up diagnostics hub

Entrance to the Moorfields pop-up hub at Brent Cross

Louisa Wickham, Medical Director at Moorfields, said: “As well as providing an innovative new way to assess and monitor patients’ eyes, we hope the research work at Brent Cross will allow us to see even more patients. As diagnostic hubs are adopted more widely across the NHS, this has the potential to help the NHS reduce waiting lists.”

In the future, these flexible and mobile ‘diagnostic centres’ could be deployed rapidly, including during or after a pandemic, or used for monitoring early-phase trial participants. They could be also applied to any healthcare specialty, such as cancer and cardiac screening.

With their experience of developing other community-based diagnostic hubs for the National Eye Care Recovery and Transformation Programme from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the team at Moorfields and UCL are confident that the new Brent Cross hub will be a success, saving patients time, improving efficiency and bringing down costs for the NHS.

For more information, please contact Helen Khan, Communications Manager at NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre:

In the media

Image shows person at a testing station in the new hub

Patient at a test machine in the new hub