‘Members and patients deserve better,’ says SoR as radiographers take strike action across UK

SoR members and other NHS staff hold 24-hour strike on Tuesday, 3 October

Published: 02 October 2023 Trade Union & IR

Both patients and NHS workers ‘deserve better,’ the SoR has said as radiographers hold a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday (3 October), in response to ongoing recruitment and retention issues blighting the profession. 

From 8am on Tuesday, radiographers and other NHS workers will be striking over the increasingly challenging working conditions in the service. 

Radiographers across the UK will be joining the picket lines to raise awareness of the staff shortages, low pay, and the excessive working hours they face in the profession. 

Members are struggling 

Scheduled to speak at a rally of medical professionals in Manchester later today, Leandre Archer, head of industry relations for the Society of Radiographers, is expected to highlight the various issues facing radiographers in their work. 

Our members are struggling to make ends meet while the cost of living soars,” Ms Archer is expected to say. 

Our members can't afford to pay for childcare or even to move out of their parents' homes. Our members see patients deteriorating on ever-increasing waiting lists.

They work excessive hours to deal with increasing vacancies. They watch colleagues leaving the NHS, seeking better work and better pay.”

Staffing crisis 

The Society of Radiographers and its members are holding a strike at the same time as junior doctors and consultants, also coinciding with the Conservative Party conference, taking place in Manchester from 1-4 October. 

While nine out of 10 NHS patients are supported by a radiography professional, SoR’s most recent workforce census found that 94 per cent of respondents had a vacant post for a diagnostic radiographers in their department. 

Radiography salaries have also stagnated, with average weekly earnings for SoR members increasing by just 28 per cent since 2008, as NHS graduates are now unusual among public sector workers in starting on salaries under £30,000.  

Meanwhile, the government has announced plans to reduce waiting lists for diagnostic scans by building a network of more than 160 community diagnostic centres (CDCs). But these centres will require an additional 3,500 radiographers to staff, at a time when the majority of radiography degree courses in the country have unfilled spaces.

Waiting for an offer 

Ms Archer is expected to add: “We have given [ministers] multiple opportunities to put a decent offer on the table. An offer that will deal with the crisis in recruitment and retention of both the radiography and medical workforces. An offer that will deal with pay restoration and years of derisory pay awards."

Strikes will be taking place across the country, including University College London Hospitals, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston, and Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, as workers demand urgent improvements to pay and conditions for the radiography workforce.  

Patients deserve better 

SoR’s proposals to improve working conditions include the implementation of a modern workforce recruitment and retention plan, improving starting salaries for radiographers. 

During the strikes, patients will still be receiving ‘life and limb,’ cover, with staffing levels during the action still matching that of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

Ms Archer will conclude: “Our members in SoR have made the difficult decision to take strike action today. It’s not where we want to be, but our members’ pleas for help have been left unanswered.

“Our members deserve better. Our patients deserve better.”