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Recovering radiotherapy services in England


Our plan for action

Radiotherapy services are increasingly reporting long delays for patients needing treatment.  

The Radiotherapy Board have developed a policy briefing which explores the main drivers of lengthening waiting times and what action we need at a national and local level to support services. 

  • NHS England’s target, that 96% of all patients start their treatment within 31 days from the decision to treat, was consistently met until July 2021, but has since been substantially declining.
  • In 2023, 11% of patients started their treatment after 31 days, compared to 5% in 2021.
  • There is unacceptable regional variation in performance against these targets. In the North East and Yorkshire, 19% of cancer patients started their radiotherapy after 31 days from the decision to treat, compared to just 3% in the North West and South West.
  • This includes patients needing palliative radiotherapy, used to relieve distressing symptoms of their cancer, who are now having to wait up to six weeks for this treatment.
  • The briefing sets out 11 recommendations for how the government and NHS England can restore radiotherapy services and ensure patients are receiving their treatment in a safe and timely manner.

National costs and resource requirements of radiotherapy: costing estimate for England from the ESTRO-HERO project

The Radiotherapy Board have today published the ESTRO-HERO report, which estimates the cost of radiotherapy to the NHS for the first time.

Key findings include:

  • The ESTRO-HERO model estimates that the total cost of the 127,275 radiotherapy courses delivered in 2017 was £467 million.
  • The mean cost of a course of radiotherapy was £3,672.
  • Radiotherapy accounts for approximately 7% of the total cancer spend.
  • In total, equipment costs made up 62.3% of the total spend, personnel 28.5%, while 8.9% and 0.3% were attributable to radiotherapy-department activities and radiotherapy-patient consumables respectively.

Advocacy in Parliament

To raise awareness of the important challenge that oncology departments across the country are facing, and of the critical need for investment in the radiotherapy workforce and services, we have written to key decision makers and stakeholders.

See our latest updates, policy reports and initiatives.

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