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07 November 2012

SCoR questions workforce and equipment investments

“Progress is being made but we have a long way to go,” is the Society’s view following the publication of a report by the Department of Health Cancer Policy Team that looks at the current state of radiotherapy services in England.

It is the first update since the publication of the radiotherapy datasets in August last year.

The Society’s president, Jackie Hughes, said “There is still a great deal of work to be done. As the professional body for radiographers and the wider radiography workforce we have played a full and active part in the National Radiotherapy Implementation Group and improving the contribution of radiotherapy to achieving better outcomes for cancer patients.

“We welcome this status report and the successes it sets out. As Anna Soubry, the Minister for Public Health, states in her foreword, it will be of interest to commissioners and providers as they work together to ensure the radiotherapy services in their areas are continually improving."

She continued: "Nevertheless, there are key areas such as equipment and the development of a highly skilled workforce that need investment at national level to ensure that radiotherapy services in England can begin to approach the standard of the world’s best.”

The report identifies 26 treatment machines that are already past the date when they should be replaced and a further 59 which become obsolete over the next three years.

“This will require an investment of £85-100million, significantly less than the underused cancer drug fund,” commented Richard Evans, the SCoR's chief executive officer.

“We need clear, structured capital investment and replacement plans to ensure the equipment can deliver state of the art radiotherapy, including new techniques and technologies as they become available,” he continued.

Audrey Paterson, the Society’s director of professional policy, commented on the report’s observations about staffing: “We should be very hesitant about accepting the Centre for Workforce Intelligence’s view that we will have sufficient radiographers to meet demand in 2016.

“This needs to be reviewed in the context of a coherent multi-professional review of workforce needs, taking into account modelling of different skills mix across the professional groups.”

She added: “The other significant point is the widespread and consistent implementation of the 4-tier structure. Evidence shows that cancer services that have implemented it provide patients with proven benefits.”

The SCoR has published a number of documents providing advice and guidance for the development of the workforce such as ‘Implementing the career framework in radiotherapy – policy into practice’ and ‘Radiotherapy moving forward: Delivering new radiography staffing models in response to the Cancer Reform Strategy’. Both are available in the document library.

Click here to download ‘Radiotherapy Services in England 2012’.

Notes for Editor

Media contact: Dominic Deeson on 01227 469060 or 0795 784 5238.

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