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Spotlight on the Radiotherapy Board

30 January, 2019

John Burton, chair of the Radiotherapy Board 2017-18, talks about this little-known body and what it contributes to therapeutic radiography.

So, John, what is the Radiotherapy Board?
It is where three professional bodies: The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) and the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) discuss radiotherapy with other interested organisations.

There are representatives from all the UK nations as well as Public Health England, the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group, NHS England’s Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group, and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IR[ME]R) Inspectorate. There is also a lay member.

What does it do?
The board speaks with a common voice across the three professions, advising on a range of key issues such as the radiotherapy workforce. It produces guidance for the professions to underpin the highest standards of service delivery. The Board also promotes the need for the correct levels of radiotherapy equipment to ensure a high-quality service for patients with cancer.

When and why was it established?
When the (then) Department of Health’s National Cancer Action Team was abolished in 2013 and NHS structures in England were reorganised, the former National Radiotherapy Implementation Group (NRIG), which was leading a national programme for the development of radiotherapy services in England, was defunct. The three professional bodies established the Radiotherapy Board to support the continued development of radiotherapy services on a UK-wide basis, building on the work of NRIG.

That all sounds very ‘NHS England’; you said the Radiotherapy Board is a UK-wide body?
You have a point. As one example, the Scottish government has its own cancer strategy and a radiotherapy liaison group. However, the Radiotherapy Board was intentionally set up with a UK remit so that where guidance is common to all the professions and all the UK countries, it could be produced by the board.

How does the Radiotherapy Board operate?
Chairmanship rotates between the professional bodies. The Secretariat is provided by the RCR but this is supported equally by the three professional bodies. Members from the bodies usually serve for a minimum three-year period to provide continuity.

What is the board working on and what are its plans?
It has recently produced a statement on the non-surgical cancer treatment workforce. This is a key priority and one that we keep under constant review.

It is also developing guidance for our professions around the new IR(ME)R 2017 and also reviewing two previous documents: On Target: ensuring geometric accuracy in radiotherapy and IGRT: guidance for implementation and use, with a view to developing new guidance. Even though these reports were not published by the Board, they were multiprofessional and it therefore makes sense for the Board to be involved.

As for the future, much more of the same, but we are also keen to raise the board’s profile because people are either unaware of it or are unsure of what it does.

Where can we find out more and how can people get in touch?
The board has dedicated pages on the RCR website and the websites for the SCoR and IPEM also have summary information and onward links.

Since Spring 2017 the Board has released public minutes from its meetings so people can get an idea of what is going on. There are a couple of routes for getting in touch with the board: either through the professional body representatives, or by contacting the Secretariat direct. Details are online.

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