Radiotherapy: Standards

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 20 May 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to (1) the recent Royal College of Radiologists’ Radiotherapy Briefing, published in May, and (2) the HERO (Health Economics in Radiation Oncology) report by the UK Radiotherapy Board, published on 2 May, what is their current assessment of the state of radiotherapy services in England.

Photo of Lord Markham Lord Markham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

According to the latest data, of those 10,328 cancer patients referred for first or subsequent treatment for radiotherapy in March 2024, 89.7% were treated within 31 days. Since 2016, there has been significant investment in radiotherapy equipment, so that every radiotherapy provider had access to modern, cutting-edge radiotherapy equipment, enabling the rollout of new techniques like stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. The total central investment made between 2016 and 2021 was £162 million, and enabled the replacement or upgrade of approximately 100 radiotherapy treatment machines. This is investment on top of that committed by National Health Service trusts, either from their own capital budgets or via donations.

From April 2022, the responsibility for investing in new radiotherapy machines sits with local systems. As outlined in the 2024/25 NHS Planning Guidance, NHS England is providing over £266 million in cancer service development funding to Cancer Alliances, to support delivery of the operational priorities for cancer. This is supported by the 2021 Spending Review, which set aside £12 billion in operational capital for the NHS.

The Department is working closely with NHS England to make sure we have the right workforce with the right skills up and down the country. We are building our cancer workforce. In January 2024 there were over 35,200 full-time equivalent staff in the cancer workforce, an increase of over 13,300, or 60.7% since January 2010.

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