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The Current Challenges Facing Radiology Departments

RMS Mobile Modular CT Scanner

Ahead of the upcoming general election on 4th July and following recent reports of an increase in NHS waiting lists, there has been much discussion of the current state and future of radiology services in the UK.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto includes a pledge to boost NHS spending, reduce waiting lists, and invest in technology that will enable clinicians to read CT and MRI scans faster and more accurately. 

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has pledged £1 billion to provide 40,000 more appointments, operations, and scans each week and has stated that it aims to double the number of MRI and CT scanners in the NHS.

Whilst we welcome the pledges from both parties to invest in new technology, it doesn’t address the primary issue that radiology departments in the NHS are currently facing. A report from The Society of Radiographers revealed that as of June 2024, there are over a million patients waiting to see a Diagnostic Radiographer for a scan. There are acute workforce shortages in radiography departments, with the current average vacancy rate standing at 13.4%.

A push on the recruitment and retention of radiographers in the NHS is crucial, but the plans laid out by both parties are long-term strategies that won’t address the immediate issues that the NHS is facing. In January 2024, nearly one in five patients waited more than six weeks for an MRI or CT scan. 

Both the Conservative and Labour Party have stated that they intend to rely more heavily on the use of the private sector in order to help cut waiting lists. Whilst outsourcing radiology services at a large scale can be costly – for example, hiring agency staff – the use of private services for individual Trusts can be very beneficial to address the specific challenges that they are facing. 

In the short- to mid-term term, using outsourced radiology services can help the NHS to achieve their targets by increasing in-use capacity, reducing waiting lists and accelerating patient pathways to diagnosis and treatment. The use of private services can help bridge temporary gaps, allocating resources to support the unique needs of Trusts.

“Radiology departments across the NHS are indeed facing significant challenges, particularly due to workforce shortages and increasing patient demand. While the pledges from both major political parties to invest in technology and resources are encouraging, more immediate measures are required to support the NHS. 

Our services alleviate the burden on NHS staff by optimising existing NHS resources and offering flexible, cost-effective staffing solutions. This helps to keep staff within the NHS while providing trusts with immediate support, reducing waiting times, and accelerating patient diagnoses and treatments.

Last year alone, RMS saved the NHS over £3.3 million, demonstrating our commitment to delivering high-quality, sustainable support to radiology departments. As we continue to work alongside the NHS, our goal is to ensure that patients receive timely, accurate care without compromising on quality. Together, we can address the immediate challenges while paving the way for a more resilient healthcare system.”
William Bailey, Clinical Director

RMS supports the NHS by helping it extend capability and capacity in radiology departments. For many Trusts, RMS runs and staffs out-of-hours radiology departments, opening up to 18 hours a day for patients to have access to a wider range of CT and MRI appointment times and shorter waiting lists.

As well as providing expert staffing – which helps with NHS staff retention by relieving the pressure on overstretched radiology professionals, giving them a greater work-life balance and more flexibility – RMS can also help to significantly reduce the cost of outsourced radiology services by realising the potential of existing scanning resources with the NHS. Last year, the services provided by RMS saved the NHS over £3.3 million.

Find out more about our services, including short-term contracts and interim staffing solutions – contact us today.