The Society has welcomed government plans to tackle extensive NHS waiting times for elective surgery but called on the health secretary to implement a ‘clear strategy and ongoing support’ for radiographers and other healthcare staff if they are to deliver on the proposals.
Society Chief Executive Richard Evans was commenting after Sajid Javid told MPs that by July this year no one would have to wait longer than two years for elective hospital treatment but acknowledged that maximum waiting times will not drop below a year before March 2024. Currently there are around 307,000 patients waiting longer than 12 months for treatment.
“There is an evident need to do something about the very large numbers of people waiting for diagnosis and treatment as the country begins the long period of recovery from the pandemic,” said Evans. “It is understandable that the Westminster government sees this as a political as well as a public service imperative”
He added that the need to reduce waiting times for cancer treatment and diagnostics would ‘place radiographers at the heart of the proposals’ but said it was ‘a shame that the Secretary of State cannot bring himself to differentiate radiographers in his usual summary of the professional workforce; “doctors and nurses”’.
‘Whatever the terminology, it would have been good to see recognition in this statement of the massive contribution of health professionals in the pandemic; that this is far from over and that the health care workforce is exhausted,’ he said.
‘Building the resources and workforce to tackle waiting lists is a long-term project requiring a clear strategy and ongoing support. If these are in place, radiographers everywhere will welcome the news.’
Javid said a significant part of the Elective Recovery Plan would involve the use of Community Diagnostic Centres, where imaging and other testing facilities are located outside of hospitals, a move welcomed by Evans.
'As I have mentioned before, Community Diagnostic Centres are a great idea and can certainly play a part in the provision of capacity needed for the recovery. However, until there are sufficient staff across the entire imaging community, development of CDCs and other welcome initiatives cannot deliver the improvements we all want and that the public deserve,’ he said.