Labour Manifesto: ‘Party must engage with professional bodies to avoid empty NHS pledges,’ SoR warns

As cancer waiting lists grow longer, the SoR has commented on Labour’s commitment to reducing them, emphasising workforce is key

Published: 14 June 2024 Government & NHS

The Society of Radiographers has welcomed Labour’s commitment to bringing down cancer waiting times in the party's manifesto, emphasising the need to engage with professional bodies to do so.

On Thursday (13 June) Labour leader Keir Starmer launched the party's manifesto ahead of the General Election on 4 July, including pledges to tackle NHS waiting lists with 40,000 extra appointments.

Mr Starmer said: “These challenges don’t disappear overnight if Labour wins. We don’t have a magic wand. But what we do have – what this manifesto represents, is a credible long-term plan. 

“A plan built on stable foundations, with clear first steps, tough spending rules that will keep taxes and inflation low. NHS waiting times cut – with 40,000 extra appointments every week.”

Waiting times grow longer

Alongside this announcement comes news from the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) that longer waiting lists for cancer care are becoming routine. 

In 2023, nearly three quarters of a million (745,290) patients in England waited over four weeks to receive the result of their imaging test following the scan.

Almost all (97 per cent) radiology leaders say that workforce shortages caused delays and backlogs.

'Forced to prioritise certain patients'

Richard Evans, CEO for the Society of Radiographers, explained the RCR’s most recent reports highlight the shortage of radiographers, alongside radiologists and oncologists. 

With the average vacancy rate for therapeutic radiography rising to 8.4 per cent in the UK, the target for 96 per cent of cancer patients to receive radiotherapy treatment within 31 days has not been met since July 2021.

Mr Evans added: “In some hospitals, Therapeutic Radiographers are being forced to prioritise certain cancer patients – delaying radiotherapy for all but the most urgent cases – because they lack the capacity to deliver treatment. "

'No magic wand'

He continued: “It is good to hear that political parties are committing to tackling the workforce shortage. They must also commit to engage with professional bodies, the SoR and RCR if these are to be anything but empty pledges.

“There is no magic wand we can wave to solve the crisis facing the NHS – and the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.”

He called on all political parties to support the Radiography Manifesto, to ensure NHS departments are fully staffed, NHS workers fairly treated, and patients receive the care they need, when they need it.

(Image: Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)