28th April 2021

Our Chief Executive calls on UK Government to take urgent action

View all Treatment

Figures published today (Wednesday 28th April) reveal that the NHS needs ‘’thousands more radiologists to keep patients safe’’, and to provide services vital to lung cancer patients, such as diagnostic CT scans.

The report, compiled and published by the Royal Colleage of Radiologists, using data and insights from NHS trusts and health boards across the UK shows:

  • – Despite many imaging doctors staying in the NHS last year to help the coronavirus effort, the NHS radiologist workforce is now short-staffed by 33% and needs at least another 1,939 consultants to meet safe staffing levels and pre-coronavirus levels of demand for scans
  • – More than half (58%) of radiology leaders say they do not have enough diagnostic and interventional radiologists to keep patients safe
  • – Half of trusts and health boards (47%) do not have the staff or transfer arrangements needed to run safe 24/7 interventional radiology services, meaning patients are potentially missing out on life-saving procedures
  • – Without more consultants in training, investment in new models of care and better staff retention and recruitment, by 2025 the UK’s radiologist shortfall will hit 44% (3,613 consultants short of real terms demand)

Professor Mark Callaway, radiology workforce lead at The Royal College of Radiologists, said:

“Our new report has found the NHS needs thousands more radiologists to ensure patients get the safe and effective treatment they deserve, amplified by the first-hand experience of frontline doctors who witness the impact of consultant shortages on patient care on a daily basis.

“The staffing forecast for 2025 makes grim reading, but, even more worryingly, swathes of demoralised radiologists are imminently looking to work less or leave the NHS.”

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Foundation, is ‘’very concerned but not surprised’’ at the report’s findings.

She said: ‘’We have been aware of shortages of staff in radiology services for some time. We also expected that the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic would intensify pressures on key areas of the NHS vital to lung cancer patients. Sadly, and worryingly, this new report from the Royal College of Radiologists confirms those concerns.

’We applaud the astounding efforts made across the NHS on behalf of us all during this crisis. But, as we progress towards recovery, now is the time for Government to stand up and make proper provisions to protect services that are critical for people living with lung cancer. That must include plans to recruit and train more radiologists, and to help retain as many experienced staff as possible.’’

She concluded: ‘’We are committed to promoting a co-ordinated national lung health check programme using Low Dosage CT Scans to detect lung cancer early. To do that, we need the NHS to have all the required resources in place, and that very much includes adequate numbers of properly trained radiology staff.’’

We have been monitoring the ways that the coronavirus pandemic, with the requirement for lockdowns and isolating, have affected NHS services relating to lung cancer. We have information and advice here.
If you need further support, you can speak to our Ask the Nurse helpline