Dr. Jeanette Dickson, president of the U.K. Royal College of Radiologists, has responded to new figures released by National Health Service (NHS) England showed the highest number of patients waiting to start treatment since records began in 2007.
Dickson stated that these figures reflect the "significant challenges" facing the NHS and called for long-term strategies and investment in trainee numbers to meet demand and address the growing cancer backlog. She also noted that current trends point to a growth in consultant radiologists within the next 10 years to over 6,000.
"Workforce is absolutely critical -- our data tells us that there is a shortfall of 2,000 consultant radiologists, a number that, on current trends, will grow to over 6,000 within ten years," she said.
"With diagnostic imaging (such as x-ray, MRI and CT) featuring in 80%-90% of patient journeys, we need a long-term plan and significant investment in trainee numbers to meet demand. Equally, with the cancer backlog growing, the shortfall in the clinical oncology workforce is 189 consultants, a 17% gap," she added.
Dickson also pointed out that it is essential to update out-of-date equipment and invest in IT.