The Royal College of Radiologists have today published their findings from a survey conducted with 1,089 of its members.
The results highlight that “more than half (58%) of radiology leaders say they do not have enough diagnostic and interventional radiologists to keep patients safe” and “half of trusts and health boards (47%) do not have the staff or transfer arrangements needed to run safe 24/7 interventional radiology services.”
It also notes that the participants felt more investment was needed in new models of care, staff retention and recruitment, citing the healthcare systems requires at least another 1,939 radiologists. However the results also suggest that more than half of the respondents intend to reduce their hours.
Professor Mark Callaway, radiology workforce lead at The Royal College of Radiologists, commented on the report: “Our new report has found the NHS needs thousands more radiologists to ensure patients get the safe and effective treatment they deserve, amplified by the first-hand experience of frontline doctors who witness the impact of consultant shortages on patient care on a daily basis.
“The staffing forecast for 2025 makes grim reading, but, even more worryingly, swathes of demoralised radiologists are imminently looking to work less or leave the NHS.”
The College however notes that the number of full-time imaging experts has increased over the past year, with 146 more joining the workforce.
Professor Mark Callaway, added: “The coronavirus pandemic has bluntly contrasted the every-day heroism of NHS teams with the chronic under-funding of services, and the cracks in radiology, as elsewhere, are becoming undeniable.
“Unless hospital imaging capacity is massively improved, the UK will continue to lag behind other countries on cancer survival rates and patients will face worse outcomes for trauma care and all kinds of conditions. The need for investment is urgent.
“The UK’s political leaders have made encouraging pledges around catching up with scan backlogs and implementing new diagnostic pathways and community-based scanning away from hospitals.
“The NHS also came through last year with emergency funding for scanners and private provider support, and we strongly support emerging plans to introduce diagnostic hubs to speed up access to scans, but the vital issue remains – we need more staff.
“Without thousands more radiologists – as well as radiographers, nurses and support staff – patients will inevitably continue to face long, anxious waits for radiology services, missing out on crucial early diagnoses and life-saving image-guided surgery.”
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