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Society condemns closure of radiotherapy degree programme

28 March, 2019
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The decision by the University of Portsmouth to close the BSc (Hons) radiotherapy and oncology course after 2020 has been slammed by the Society of Radiographers.

In a letter to the dean of science, Richard Evans, the Society’s chief executive officer, said that abandoning the course will affect the “most important stakeholders, the public of Portsmouth and the whole of the south of England, who will see their prospects of cancer treatment compromised by the closure. I doubt that these people had a say in the decision.”

He reminds the university that “therapeutic radiography is a small professional group within the allied health professions but one which occupies a strategically vital place as the only profession dedicated to the delivery of radiotherapy.”

Richard said, “The relatively small workforce size and limited number of training programmes available across the UK, combined with known difficulties in recruitment and retention, is causing concern at national level.

“The work of the team at the university has been critically successful in increasing the profile of therapeutic radiography and this has resulted in increased recruitment.

”The fact that these prospective students are now to be disappointed is a devastating blow, not only for the individuals concerned, but also for the inevitable loss to the profession of therapeutic radiographers and consequently, the damage to cancer care."

The Society is asking for clarity about what will happen to members employed at the university and the people who provide clinical placement support for students in local radiotherapy departments.

Richard also queried whether radiotherapy centres and hospitals along the south coast have been consulted because “the closure of this recruitment source in 2020 will present a very significant challenge for these services to continue to recruit adequately to provide vital radiotherapy.”

The Society is asking for a meeting with the university and Health Education England (HEE) to “understand the reasoning and, if nothing else, seek to learn from the unfortunate turn of events in Portsmouth.”

Charlotte Beardmore, SCoR director of professional policy, said “This decision is particularly badly timed and frustrating because the Society has been working with HEE, the Office for Students, and the Council of Deans for Health to raise awareness of the career opportunities that the profession provides.

“The #ISeetheDifference campaign run by the Strategic Interventions in Health Education Disciplines (SIHED) is investing £1million a year to raise the profile of therapeutic radiography and three other specialist disciplines.

“The profession is particularly angry about this because this move has been taken without consultation with any key stakeholders.”

Requests to the university for interviews by the Society’s publisher have been unanswered.   

Read Richard Evans’ letter to the University of Portsmouth.

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