Radiotherapy Board

Article author: 
Mr John Burton, Chair of the Radiotherapy Board 2017–18

Mr John Burton, Chair of the Radiotherapy Board 2017–18, gives an interview about the work of this little-known body, to provide a better understanding of its role and its contribution to radiotherapy.

What is the radiotherapy board?

The Radiotherapy Board is a national multidisciplinary partnership. In simple terms, it’s a place where three professional bodies – The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) and the
Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) – can discuss radiotherapy with other interested organisations. There are
representatives from all the UK nations and also from Public Health England, the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy
Research Working Group, NHS England’s Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IR[ME]R) Inspectorate. There is also a lay member.

What does the Board do?

The Board speaks with a common voice across the three professions, advising on a range of key issues such as the radiotherapy workforce. It produces guidance for the professions to underpin the highest standards of service delivery. The Board also promotes the need for the correct levels of radiotherapy equipment to ensure a high-quality service for patients with cancer.

When and why was it established?

When the (then) Department of Health’s National Cancer Action Team was abolished in 2013 and NHS structures in England were reorganised, the former National Radiotherapy Implementation Group (NRIG) – which was leading a national programme for the development of radiotherapy services in England – was no more. The three professional bodies established the Radiotherapy Board to support the continued development of radiotherapy services on a UK-wide basis, building on the work of NRIG.

That all sounds very ‘NHS England’ – you said the Radiotherapy Board is a UK-wide body?

You have a point. As one example, the Scottish Government has its own cancer strategy and a radiotherapy liaison group.
However the Radiotherapy Board was intentionally set up with a UK-wide remit so that where guidance is common to all the professions and all the UK countries, it could be produced by the Board.

How does the Radiotherapy Board operate?

I’ve spoken earlier about membership of the Board. Chairmanship rotates each year between the professional bodies. The secretariat is provided by the RCR but this is supported equally by the three professional bodies. Members from the  professional bodies usually serve for a minimum three-year period to provide continuity. For instance, this is my second year on the Board, holding the Chair on behalf of the SCoR. I will continue for a further year after I hand over this role to IPEM in September.

What is the Board working on at the moment and what are its plans for the future?

The Board has recently produced a statement on the non-surgical cancer treatment workforce. This is a key priority for the Board and one that we keep under constant review. It is also developing guidance for our professions around the new IR(ME)R 2017 and also reviewing two previous documents – On Target: ensuring geometric accuracy in radiotherapy and IGRT: guidance for implementation and use with a view to developing new, up-to-date guidance in this area. Even though these reports weren’t published by the Radiotherapy Board, they were multiprofessional and it therefore makes sense for the Board to get involved.

As for the future – much more of the same, but we are also keen to raise the Board’s profile because people are either
unaware of it or unsure what it does. This year we participated in UKRCO 2018 – and this interview is another way of getting the message out.

Where can we find out more about the Radiotherapy Board and how can people get in touch?

The Board has dedicated pages  on the RCR’s website and the websites for the SCoR and IPEM also have summary information and onward links. Since Spring 2017 the Board has released public minutes from its meetings so people can get an idea of what’s going on. There are a couple of routes for getting in touch with the Board – either through the professional body representatives or by contacting the secretariat direct. Details are online.

Thank you John – your answers have helped to shed some light on the important work of the Radiotherapy Board.

Declared interests

Vice Chairman, Leprosy at Utale Village Plus

UK Council Member of the Society of Radiographers