U.K. radiology continues to grapple with workforce crisis

Radiologists in England are under pressure to meet a performance target to report all scans within four weeks. Government must act to help them meet the growing workforce challenges, according to a report released on 6 December by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR).

In response to an increasing number of imaging reports lagging more than 28 days, the move announced by NHS England in August 2023 marks a shift from monitoring traditional diagnostic waiting time data to monitoring turnaround times instead, the RCR noted. The eventual goal is to report all scans within two weeks.

“That radiology departments are unable to return scans within the perceived-to-be modest target of four weeks demonstrates the scale of the staffing crisis,” wrote Dr. Stephen Harden, vice president, clinical radiology at the RCR. Harden is a consultant in cardiothoracic radiology at University Hospital Southampton.

2023 12 11 Ct And Mri Data For England December 2023

The report contains five key recommendations for the path forward:

  1. Grow the workforce by sustaining the increase of radiology specialty training posts.
  2. Expand training capacity, both in terms of doctors’ capacity to train and physical space.
  3. Improve working conditions to stem the flow of doctors leaving the system. Between 2020 and 2022, the median age at which a clinical radiologist retired dropped from 58 to 51.
  4. Invest in IT systems and networks to support radiologists’ ability to report scans.
  5. To support the continued monitoring of radiologists’ capacity, NHS England should also invest further in the turnaround times dataset.

Read the full report here.

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