Strickland: Situation is desperate post-Brexit vote

2013 02 04 11 58 22 724 Nicola Strickland 20160209171526

The shortage of radiologists is contributing to a desperate situation in the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) following the Brexit vote in June, Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) President Dr. Nicola Strickland said in a national newspaper interview published last weekend.

In an article published online on 16 October by the Observer about the crisis facing the NHS, Strickland said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposal to train an additional 1,500 doctors each year will not possibly solve the drastic shortage of radiologists. Only a small number of these 1,500 doctors will become radiologists and they won't even come through the system until 2030, she said. Those who become clinical oncologists won't be ready until 2032.

RCR President Dr. Nicola H. Strickland.RCR President Dr. Nicola H. Strickland.
RCR President Dr. Nicola H. Strickland.

"And by that time," she told the Observer, "we'll be lucky if we have a health service for them to work in."

Strickland said the demand for radiology has increased by 29% over the past three years, but there isn't sufficient staff to meet that demand. The U.K. needs 260 extra radiology trainees a year for the next five years to even catch up with the rest of Europe; the U.K. is currently tied third bottom with Turkey, she said.

"Imaging underlies every part of the health system and without it the entire health system will fall apart," she said. "I am desperate to get this message out there, and nobody is listening to us."

Strickland noted a third of radiologists in the U.K. come from abroad, but one in 10 consultant positions is vacant and not able to be filled. The situation is depressing and demoralizing, she said.

"Already 230,000 people are having to wait a month to get the results of their scans and that's just not right," she said. "It causes stress and anxiety, and delays life-saving treatment. We are trying to tell everyone we can. We could train people, but the money is not being made available and it's going to break the health service. I really mean that."

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