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Thursday, October 17, 2019, Issue 183

Government announces new funding to boost cancer diagnosis

New funding announced by the government today (27 September) will completely overhaul cancer screening, says the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson.

The plan is to replace ageing MRI machines, CT scanners, and breast screening equipment to improve the quality and speed of diagnosis, as well as providing a personal training budget of £1000 for AHPs, including radiographers.

“Too many lives are still being lost to this shattering illness. We can, must, and will do so much more for sufferers and their families. These new scanners will lead to quicker diagnosis, more screenings, and improved care for patients, giving brilliant NHS staff the tools they need to further boost survival rates,” Boris Johnson said.

The government claims this investment of £200m will "ensure 55,000 more people survive cancer each year" and is in addition to the recently announced extra "£33.9 billion every year to be invested in the health service by 2023 to 2024."

Richard Evans, the Society of Radiographers chief executive officer, welcomed the announcement, saying, "Out dated imaging equipment is often less reliable and incapable of delivering the most appropriate scanning techniques to meet the needs of our patients.

"A report from the Clinical Imaging Board in 2017 showed that almost one third of MRI scanners in use are technically obsolete. We know that an initiative to upgrade equipment resources will make a difference to benefit patients and the radiographers that work hard to provide the imaging examinations. We hope that NHS trusts will be encouraged and funded to plan more appropriately for equipment replacement and upgrading in the future."

The benefits of the new equipment will include:

  • lower radiation levels with dosage reduction of 80 to 90%
  • improved reliability
  • more patients to be seen using less equipment
  • the machines will be artificial intelligence (AI) enabled, to ensure they are AI ready when an update is available

Commenting on the £1000 personal training budget for each radiographer, Richard Evans said, "This will go some way to encouraging career and skills development and will complement local staff development planning to meet service needs.

"The good news has to be seen in the context of continuing shortage of radiographers and radiologists in the NHS. We will see the full benefit of up to date technology when there are sufficient radiographers to use the equipment to its full potential.”

Read the full announcement.

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