Royal College of Radiologists comment on Health and Social Care Expert Panel’s report rating government progress on key workforce commitments ‘inadequate’

Monday 25 July 2022

Independent analysis by the Health and Social Care Committee Expert Panel has found that the Government has made ‘inadequate’ progress against its own commitments on planning for the workforce, building a skilled workforce, and improving wellbeing at work.

The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) supports the latest ‘inadequate’ rating, as decades of poor planning and chronic underfunding have left NHS services stretched and staff burnt out.

A sustainably funded workforce, recruited in line with patient demand, is crucial to a functioning health service. Yet the RCR 2021 Workforce Censuses found that there is a shortfall of 30% (1,453) clinical radiologist consultants and 17% (163) clinical oncology consultants in England. This is the latest example of inadequate workforce planning by the government resulting in shortfalls.

The RCR 2021 Workforce Censuses also found that 99% of radiology clinical directors and 100% of cancer centre heads are concerned about workforce morale and/or stress and burnout, supporting the Expert’s Panel findings that efforts to improve wellbeing at work were ‘inadequate’.

The findings of the independent report are significantly more concerning considering recent announcements that essential but unplanned NHS pay increases will be paid for by reducing investment in much-needed diagnostic capacity and equipment.

Dr Jeanette Dickson, President of The Royal College of Radiologists, said:

’This report reinforces what The Royal College of Radiologists and others have been saying for years: the NHS simply doesn’t have enough staff to meet demand.

As the Expert Panel has found, insufficient planning, which failed to link staff recruitment targets to patient and service need, has left NHS staff and patients wanting.

We can only hope that the new government and Prime Minister wake up to the scale of workforce shortages and commits to the launch and sustainable funding of a new workforce plan and the 10-Year Cancer Plan.

However, any plans will ultimately fail if the recent announcement of cuts to diagnostic funding go ahead, as the workforce will not have the capacity or equipment required to meet patient need.’