The SoR has welcomed a new report from the parliamentary radiotherapy group, which sets out a framework for ‘world-class’ service in the UK.
Titled ‘Vision for Radiotherapy’, the report was released on Tuesday (6 February) by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy in conjunction with charity Radiotherapy UK.
This evidence-based document sets out a framework for developing a world-class service for radiotherapy over the next 10 years.
SoR has welcomed the focus on radiotherapy’s role in providing care for a range of patients with cancer and the need to develop, fund and deliver a comprehensive 10-year radiotherapy specific workforce plan.
The report was officially launched in Parliament on 6 February, during an event attended by SoR president Dave Pilborough, executive director of professional policy Charlotte Beardmore, and professioanl officer for radiotherapy Spencer Goodman.
The report comes as cancer patients face record wait times for treatment in the UK. By 2040, the number of people in the UK with cancer is estimated to increase by one-third, but UK patient survival sits near the bottom of international cancer survival tables.
Dave Pilborough, SoR president, said: “We welcome this report and the opportunity to focus on equity of access to radiotherapy across the four nations - this is underpinned by the highly skilled, multidisciplinary workforce striving to deliver best care despite challenges with workforce shortages.”
According to the report, the therapeutic radiographer workforce, along with physicist and clinical oncologist colleagues, continues to be under significant pressure due to rising workload, increasing complexity of treatments being planned and delivered, and high staff vacancy rates.
Staff shortages are affecting the ability of departments to use the full capacity of their planning and treatment equipment, the report added. This has an impact on the timeliness of delivering patient care, the patient experience, and the morale of radiographers currently in post.
Radiotherapy cures cancer and is the most cost-effective cancer treatment, the report explains. It is needed by one in two cancer patients and contributes to cure in 40 per cent of cases.
In the UK, radiotherapy has high training standards and enjoys extremely high degrees of quality and safety – however, a lack of long-term planning and investment in radiotherapy in the UK has led to piecemeal implementation of the new technologies and innovations.
The vision outlines six key areas of action to improve patient outcomes with higher cure rates and fewer side effects.
The report concluded: “By delivering a UK national radiotherapy plan based on the vision outlined in this document, the UK has the potential to develop a truly world class radiotherapy service by 2034. Action is now needed, and urgently.”