NHS radiotherapy radiographic workforce is largest on record but more are needed

More vacancies

Published: 18 June 2020 Government & NHS

The results of the Radiotherapy Radiographic Workforce UK Census 2019 have been published, showing NHS staff numbers have grown by more than a fifth since 2012 and are at their highest on record as of the census date of 1 November 2019.

However, the NHS vacancy rate has risen by 1% (from 6.1% to 7.1%) since 2018.

Wales and Northern Ireland have the highest vacancy rates (10.0%) and Scotland has the lowest (3.1%).

The rate for England was 7.2%, comparable to the overall UK NHS rate of 7.1%. Three NHS providers have a vacancy rate of over 20%.

The percentage of the NHS workforce on long-term leave is 5.5% (comprising 0.6% on a career break, 2.0% on long-term sickness absence and 2.9% on parental leave).

Managers were also asked if they are ‘over-established’ at any pay bands. One respondent explained that their service is over-established at band 5 (+4) ‘for maternity leave, career break and proactive recruitment.’

A third of respondents employ agency therapeutic radiographers, largely to cover existing vacancies.

For the first time, the census this year captured the staff turnover rate: 10.5% by headcount. The highest turnover rates are seen at pay bands 3, 4, 5 and 6.

“We wish to thank the service leads at the 61 radiotherapy providers who responded to the online questionnaire,” the document summary states.

“The data they supply can provide important evidence to workforce planners, clinical boards, government departments, educators, commissioners and providers of radiotherapy.”

There were insufficient responses from non-NHS providers this year to give an overall picture of the radiotherapy radiographic workforce in the non-NHS UK healthcare sector.

The College of Radiographers (CoR) carry out the census of the radiotherapy radiographic workforce in the UK annually to establish the size, structure, nature and vacancy rate of the workforce. The radiotherapy radiographic workforce is made up of trainee assistant practitioners, assistant practitioners and therapeutic radiographers.

The CoR’s Radiotherapy Radiographic Workforce UK Census 2019