Gazing into the future of radiology and oncology

Monday 23 January 2023

After another challenging year in healthcare, we asked some of our Officers to give us their predictions for the future of radiology and oncology in 2023.

“You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know that there is a workforce crisis across the health and social care sector. At the RCR we continue to highlight the need for more training numbers across both our specialties. More staff alone is not the answer though; we will never have enough to meet current and increasing demand unless we work differently. We need to support all staff members to use their valuable clinical skills to the best effect.

“As senior healthcare professionals, we must all embrace innovation to maximise efficiency, optimise clinical pathways and improve patient safety. In 2023, the RCR are concentrating on understanding where innovation is working well and how we can support our Fellows and members to implement new solutions. At the same time, we will actively engage with the industry to understand and influence new products.”

Dr Katharine Halliday, RCR President


“UK Radiology faces challenges in the short, medium and long term. Reducing the imaging backlog, increasing capacity and future-proofing imaging services are all areas we must address. Building and retaining workforce is a consistent College theme, and the need is no less acute at present. We campaign to increase training numbers, promote workforce wellbeing and encourage experienced colleagues to continue contributing.

“But workforce is not the only issue. Up-to-date equipment is needed to deliver optimum imaging, and the whole service requires the best possible IT to work efficiently to benefit patients. This is essential for patients, referrers and imagers to get the best from radiology. This is even more important in an age of community diagnostic centres and imaging networks. These widen access to imaging and offer efficiencies of scale, but their potential will only be realised when they are seamlessly connected – perhaps this year's greatest challenge.”

Dr William Ramsden, Vice-President, Clinical Radiology


“In spite of the huge staffing challenges and crisis in acute care, which has knock-on effects on so many other services, there are reasons to be optimistic for oncology in the UK in 2023. Genomics, new radiotherapy treatments and new drugs increase the options for each patient. We are curing more people and extending the lives of millions. But they make decision-making more complex for doctors as well as patients. The risk is that lack of staff will mean inconsistent take-up of new therapies and a return to postcode lotteries of the past. We need thinking space to innovate and adapt.

“The recent increase in training numbers is beginning to help, but we have to work differently now to give ourselves the time to lead and develop services, as well as seeing our patients. This will mean changing how we work – rethinking how teams assess patients having treatment and in follow-up and using the skills of non-medical colleagues to the full.

Dr Tom Roques, Vice-President, Clinical Oncology


“Interventional radiology has evolved to become a key subspecialty in improving patient outcomes by delivering minimally invasive treatments to patients for a wide range of diseases. This includes treatments which save lives, such as acutely ruptured blood vessels and severe sepsis, to curative treatments of an increasing range of cancers and palliation when this is not possible. It also includes improving the quality of life for so many more patients by decreasing pain and bleeding symptoms such as fibroids and gonadal vein embolisation.

“The range of treatments continues to grow and many of these treatments replace major surgery. They are also done as day cases, take the pressure off beds and save the NHS vital resources. The importance of this can’t be underestimated as we head into 2023 and beyond, where beds are at such a high premium. Investment in interventional radiology and ambulatory care needs to be a key priority going forward to help the NHS.”

Dr Raman Uberoi, Medical Director, Professional Practice, Clinical Radiology