Latest figures show that 7.68 million people were on NHS waiting lists in July – which health secretary Steve Barclay claimed on BBC Breakfast was caused by industrial action.
In response, Dean Rogers, director of industrial strategy for the Society of Radiographers, said: “The Society of Radiographers is saddened and frustrated – but unsurprised – by the news that waiting lists have increased to 7.68 million in England.
"But by going on the BBC and blaming industrial action for the increased waiting lists, the health secretary has missed the point quite spectacularly. The Society went on strike in order to draw attention to waiting lists that were already unmanageable. A million patients are currently waiting to be seen by a radiographer – often delaying vital diagnosis and treatment for months."
The SoR is leading strikes in Northern Ireland this month, and in England in October, calling for improved pay for radiographers to help recruit and retain staff, and in turn enable the safe and effective delivery of patient services.
The new figures show that only 59 per cent of cancer patients start treatment within the target 62-day period, many of them waiting for radiotherapy treatment. "The only way to tackle this is to recruit and retain more radiographers", said Dean. "This means paying radiographers more and offering better working conditions. This is precisely why we went on strike."
Mr Barclay also claimed that government plans to open new community diagnostic centres will cut waiting lists.
But Dean said: "Diagnostic centres will achieve nothing unless they can be properly staffed – they, too, rely on having a strong radiography workforce. We are constantly hearing from radiographers whose departments have been given new scanners that they are unable to use, because they did not come with funding for additional radiographers. This is the only way to ensure that waiting lists are reduced, and that NHS patients receive the treatment they deserve.”