To ask Her Majesty's Government how many senior consultant radiologist posts are currently unfilled in NHS England; what impact the level of unfilled posts is having on patient care; what the additional bill to the NHS has been in outsourcing imaging work to private companies in the past five years; and what action they are taking to recruit and train senior radiologists in the NHS.
Information is not available on vacancies by medical specialty and medical grade including the number of senior consultant radiologist posts which are currently unfilled.
NHS Digital collects data on the numbers of staff employed in Hospital and Community Health Services, and for doctors by speciality doctors by speciality and medical career grade (including Consultant and Directors of Public Health, Associate Specialist, Specialty Doctor, Staff Grade and Doctors in training), however this is not collected specifically at senior consultant level, and therefore we have made no assessment of any potential impact of specific unfilled posts on patient care.
Responsibility for staffing levels, including the consultant workforce, rests with individual National Health Service trusts and their boards who are best placed to decide how many staff they need to provide safe, effective and compassionate care.
Since 2010, the NHS radiology workforce has grown at a faster rate (28%) than the medical workforce across all specialties (15%). The number of doctors in radiology training has increased by 22%, compared to 10% for those in training for all specialties.
Health Education England (HEE) is increasing investment in clinical radiology training year on year to increase the output of new clinical radiology specialists and grow the workforce. Clinical radiology training has achieved a 100% fill rate over the last four years. HEE will consider whether further action is required to increase net supply beyond 2021 in the light of the longer-term workforce strategy.
Information is not held centrally on the cost to the NHS of outsourcing imaging work to private companies in the past five years.
In the Cancer Workforce Plan for England, published in December 2017, HEE set out the case for the need to target additional training support for clinical radiology, histopathology, oncology and diagnostic and therapeutic radiography. HEE is taking the following specific actions to increase supply of the radiology workforce by 2021 by:
- improving the retention of staff;
- international recruitment;
- increasing the supply pool through streamlining accreditation and validation; and
- encouraging clinicians to return to practice through a dedicated programme.
A copy of Cancer Workforce Plan: Phase 1: Delivering the cancer strategy to 2021, is attached.