The SoR has written to all members about the critical situation of staffing levels in the NHS, advising radiographers to refuse to work excessive hours.
The last time the Society took such action was over the matter of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic last year.
Officers now believe that the stress being caused by staff shortages and increased workload is rapidly becoming an equally serious safety issue.
SoR chief executive Richard Evans said: ‘Trying to go on carrying a service at the detriment to your own wellbeing is not sustainable; neither is it in the interests of patients. Staff working excessive hours to cover for absent colleagues and historic understaffing is fuelling high sickness and burnout, and increasing and prolonging the problem.
‘SoR officers have received increasing reports from members and representatives, who have been telling us about departments that are overwhelmed as a result of staff shortages.
‘There is no easy answer to historic staffing shortages but there is a duty on all NHS employers to acknowledge the problem and to take action to stop it getting any worse.
‘We want all members to know that you can say no to excessive hours and that the SoR will stand with you.’
Members are referred to the employer’s duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (see below).
The Society has also written specifically to radiography managers, offering help to negotiate with employers and avoid the risk that the service could ‘collapse completely’.
Richard Evans said: ‘Unfortunately, for many years now, imaging and radiotherapy services have relied on the good will of radiographers to work paid and unpaid overtime and to fill in for colleagues who are absent or who have resigned. This chronic situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the backlog of work which has ensued.
'We are now in an acute phase which, if not addressed, will tip over into collapse of services as radiographers reach burnout and either take prolonged sick absence or leave the profession altogether.'
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 establishes the duty of care, both of managers to look after their staff and of staff to protect themselves and others. Remember: