Supporting students: How to address the radiography workforce crisis 

Synergy explores how addressing student attrition can be the start of the solution 

Published: 13 November 2023 Students

This is a preview of a full feature that appeared in the November edition of Synergy

The number of radiographers in the NHS is dwindling. According to the latest figures gathered by the Society of Radiographers, 94 per cent of members said there was a vacant post for a diagnostic radiographer in their department, while the UK’s vacancy rate for radiographers sits at 12.7 per cent. 

The government has repeatedly vowed to tackle the ever-growing NHS waiting lists but it’s clear that this goal is impossible to meet without immediate action to address the workforce shortage in radiography and the wider health service.

But what is the most effective way to address staff shortages? One area that could offer immediate benefits is tackling student attrition. 

Declining figures 

While there is certainly a shortage of people choosing to study radiography (with most universities reporting that there were not enough students to fill places on diagnostic radiography courses in 2021-22), the student dropout rates are a major cause for concern. 

According to SoR figures, more than one in five (21 per cent) of radiography students dropped out of their courses in 2021-22, flagging an area that requires urgent attention to help combat the staff shortages. 

Offering some background on the student attrition problem, the SoR’s students and new professionals officer Nichola Jamison said: “While a concerning gap remains in the radiography workforce, it is vital that we continue to maintain a flow of competent and confident newly qualified radiographers into the profession. 

“Attrition not only reduces these numbers and slows growth, but the factors and challenges faced by those who choose to remain in the profession can have a significant impact on progress as these early career staff work to build confidence and resilience in their formative professional years.” 

To find out the reasons behind student attrition rates, who better to ask than the students themselves?

Continue reading in the November edition of Synergy. 

About Synergy

Synergy is the Society of Radiographer's essential publication featuring professional interviews, the latest advice for radiographers, and keeps you up to date on the latest news in the field. 

Now published exclusively as an online magazine format, is available to all members of SoR and features the professional lives of radiographers from across the UK.  

This month, we profile Professor Ruth Strudwick, educator and editor of Imaging and Oncology, to find out about her mission for patient-focused care. We also speak to a veterinary radiographer, hear a CoRIPS success story, and learn about an international outreach programme supported by SoR.