Today sees the launch of our clinical radiology and clinical oncology census reports for 2021. Every single Clinical Director and Head of Service across the UK has completed our annual survey, which helps us to identify current pressures, gaps and concerns amongst the workforces as they stood on 1 September 2021 for clinical radiology and 1 October 2021 for clinical oncology. These reports demonstrate the scale of workforce shortages in radiology and oncology departments across the country and the devastating impact on patients.
As will come as no surprise to our Fellows and members, staff shortages continue to further squeeze an already depleted staff resource, with concerns raised around patient safety, staff wellbeing and the fight to meet demand. With a post-COVID backlog demanding attention, alongside ongoing services and treatment, our members are struggling to deliver care as quickly and effectively as needed.
With an estimated 50,000 cancers diagnoses missed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic backlog and concerns over morale at an all-time high for both specialties, the need for a sustained investment in workforce, both to tackle the immediate pressures and to allow for future growth, is increasingly urgent.
RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson: “Whenever I speak to consultant radiologists and consultant oncologists, the number one issue is workforce. The situation we’re in is simply unsustainable, and as these reports show, the impact of doctor shortages is being felt across the country and affecting our ability to diagnose cancer, heart disease, stroke and many other devastating diseases. More training places have been provided recently, but we need a long term, fully funded sustained investment that builds in a permanent increase in training numbers, Trust funding to employ these trainees, and significant investment in IT and equipment. Doctors are burnt out and if we don’t address these workforce issues soon, the picture is going to get a lot worse in future years.”
The RCR is calling for long-term strategy with sustained investment to grow the workforce, including a sustained increase in trainee numbers, a clear strategy for global recruitment and a focus on doctor retention.