Letter to the Prime Minister: Government must act now to improve imaging and cancer care

Thursday 19 December 2019

Following last week’s General Election and establishment of a Conservative majority, the RCR has called on the Government to urgently prioritise and boost funding across the five top areas impacting on NHS imaging and cancer care.

Writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson stressed that patient safety is being jeopardized by short-staffing across imaging and interventional radiology teams, meanwhile, the cancer care workforce is unable to keep up with demand and ensure patients all get the same treatment.

In her letter, Dr Dickson calls on the Prime Minister to provide “substantial, focused and sustained” investment in imaging and cancer care, with a dedicated focus on:

  • More staff: patient safety is being put at risk and innovation stymied because the NHS workforce cannot keep up with demand. Within the RCR’s two medical specialties, to meet demand over the next five years there needs to be at least treble the number of radiologists in training and double the number of clinical oncologists in training.
  • Better technical equipment: as state-of-the-art equipment is essential for faster diagnosis and treatment, there needs to be a rolling programme of investment in machines and the software programmes necessary to run them.
  • Better facilities and more space: healthcare is being delivered in buildings that do not have space for modern equipment or multidisciplinary imaging and cancer care teams and there needs to be major investment in NHS buildings to improve patient care.
  • Enhanced IT: patient information often can’t be shared between services quickly because of the NHS’ old, disjointed IT – IT connectivity must be enhanced so that all data, including imaging, follows patients wherever they go.
  • Commitments that Brexit will benefit the NHS: staff and patients remain concerned about the long-term impact of Brexit on the NHS – we need you to ensure that the opportunities of Brexit will be maximised to bring about expanded access to skilled healthcare staff, medicines and devices, as well as sustained research relationships and early access to novel therapies.

She concludes by urging Mr Johnson to act now, and not throw away the chance to bring about genuine improvement to NHS resourcing.

Dr Dickson writes:

“You have the power and the opportunity to give patients a sustainably funded, properly-equipped NHS, with imaging and cancer services fit to provide 21st century care.

“We urge you not to squander that chance, and look forward to working with you and advising partners across the health service to ensure that every future patient gets the rapid, effective diagnoses and treatment they deserve.”