Radiology workforce census

Clinical radiologists, clinical oncologists and interventional radiologists are the lynchpin of diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as other killers including stroke and heart disease.

Accurate and timely diagnosis can make all the difference to outcomes – whether for cancer, heart disease or stroke.

It has been an extraordinary year for the NHS. In radiology departments, COVID-19 has impacted in myriad ways. Diagnostic and interventional radiologists have been at the forefront of the fight against this pernicious disease, identifying some of the unique attributes of COVID-19 to enable better diagnosis and treatment. But, in addition to the personal and community impact of COVID-19, it has also highlighted the vast gap in the radiology workforce.

This year our census reveals huge shortages across radiology departments – both diagnostic radiologists who enable accurate treatment, and interventional radiologists who treat via non-invasive procedures. Without significant investment in workforce, equipment and new ways of working, patients will suffer; diagnoses will be further delayed, and fewer patients will benefit from life-saving minimally invasive interventional radiology.

Key findings from the report found:

  • The NHS radiologist workforce is now short-staffed by 33% and needs at least another 1,939 consultants just to keep up with pre-coronavirus levels of demand for scans and surgery.
  • More than half (58%) of radiology leaders say they do not have enough diagnostic and interventional radiologists to keep patients safe.
  • Patients are potentially missing out on cutting-edge, life-saving surgery as half of trusts and health boards (47%) do not have the staff or transfer arrangements needed to run safe 24/7 interventional radiology services.
  • Without more consultants in training, investment in new models of care and better staff retention and recruitment, the UK’s radiologist shortfall is forecast to hit 44% (3,613 consultants) by 2025.

The report shows the UK now has 4,277 clinical radiology consultants, which equates to 3,902 doctors working full-time, an increase of 170 full-time consultants compared to 2019.
However, while overall UK numbers are rising, they are not keeping up with patient demand, and consultant shortfalls range from 24-38% across the UK.

The issue of workforce is not a new one. But neither is it one that will go away until action has been taken. We need more funding, more trainees, and more understanding of the pivotal role radiology plays in improving patient outcomes.

At the end of an extraordinary year, where so many have suffered but so much has been achieved, understanding the crucial role of radiology and radiologists in fighting so many of the devastating illnesses that blight so many lives is essential. By investing now, many lives can be saved tomorrow.

Download the full report (PDF)

For queries or suggestions regarding census data, please email  

Previous workforce census reports (PDF)