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To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent information he holds on staff shortages within the discipline of radiology; what estimate he has made of the number of vacancies for trained and experienced breast radiology staff; what recent discussions he has had with NHS leaders on the number of patients requiring breast imaging for the investigation of a lump who are told to return at a later date due to staff shortages; and if he will make a statement.
The Department does not hold the information requested on the number of vacancies within the discipline of radiology and trained and experienced breast radiology staff.
Health Education England (HEE) published its first ever Cancer Workforce Plan in December 2017, which commits to the expansion of capacity and skills including an ambition to increase improved working practices, attracting qualified people back to the National Health Service through domestic and international recruitment. This will include 668 more, full time equivalent, clinical radiologists and investing in 300 reporting radiographers by 2021 to support an increase in the capacity for earlier diagnosis.
HEE intends to follow the plan later this year with a longer-term strategy that looks at the workforce needs beyond 2021. This will include exploring sustainable growth beyond 2021 in key professions through continued investment in training places, with a greater focus on attracting and retaining students and improving the numbers of qualified professionals who go on to work in the NHS.
Ministers meet with NHS leaders, including the National Cancer Director, and Health Education England on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of issues, including how we can assure that the NHS has the workforce it needs to ensure that cancer patients have fast access to diagnostic services.