Anger builds over 10% fee hike for RCR members

A wave of resentment has erupted on social media over the decision by the U.K. Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) to increase its membership rates by 10%. RCR President Dr. Kath Halliday has now responded to the critics in an attempt to justify the rise and calm the mood.

The string of negative comments posted on X, formerly Twitter, began on 17 April. "Demanding £609 a year [708 euros] when Drs haven't had an above inflation rise in 15 years is pretty scandalous -- All the while promoting PAs [physician associates] who are reducing training & career opportunities for your members," noted a clinical oncology consultant (@ClinOncDoc) in a post that has had over 13,400 views, 146 likes, and 41 retweets. "Listen to your membership," he urged.

Also on X, Dr. Tom Elswood (@telswood), a consultant radiologist from Glasgow, wrote in a message viewed more than 11,700 times: "If the RCR wish to raise their rates by 10% this year, they must justify it. Radiologists need to know if their FRCR [Fellow of the RCR qualification] is valued -- why are radiographers reporting cross-sectional imaging in some trusts [National Health Service hospital groups]? Completely inappropriate."

Radiologist Dr. GrĂ¡inne Murphy (@DrGrainne) has also criticized the RCR. "Is there actually any point to being in it? I'm just member level and it was useful for giving me a certificate for my CPD [Common Professional Development] for my revalidation a few years ago, but otherwise, I think I just hand over money for nothing much. Feel like a foreigner in it, unlike RSNA."

The timing of the decision seems to have contributed to the strong reaction because it came during the same week as the 2nd RCR Global radiology conference in Dubai, held from 19 to 21 April. "Feels like we are subsidising jollies," stated Dr. Rizwan Malik (@rijan44) of South Manchester Radiology. "Increasing fees for reduced benefits? This is a question Consultants of all Royal Colleges are currently asking regarding membership. It would be a good time to have them come out - Candour & Transparency and all that and explain the value of the membership fees."

Radiologist Dr. John Brittenden (@john_brittenden) shares this view. "Massive own goal by the RCR. Just as we were beginning to regain trust with your views on physician associates! Less of the Dubai and more on your members especially the junior ones who have no choice but to be a member!" Another critic said he resented the fact that the RCR's own U.K. Annual Scientific Meeting "has been 'paused' and most of the decent events staff at the RCR have been sacked."

Response from RCR president

Kath Halliday told AuntMinnieEurope.com on 22 April that the RCR "absolutely understands the context that our doctors are working in. We are determined to keep our fees as low as possible, but we are equally determined to continue to advocate for and build our specialties, ensuring that our members are equipped for what's ahead."

RCR President Dr. Kath Halliday.

The RCR thinks long and hard before putting fees up, she continued. "The RCR is a very ambitious college and does a great deal to support its Fellows and members, with networks, audits and guidance, and lobbying and influencing. We are taking the lead on major innovations like AI, working in partnership with NHS England to ensure that radiology and oncology are at the centre of developments; we are working hard on multiple levels to find solutions to the workforce crisis, and we have established ourselves as a leading voice on the media and in governments across the four nations so that our specialties are valued and understood, all whilst delivering a comprehensive learning offer."

The RCR achieves all this with a smaller fellowship than the bigger U.K. colleges, while also keeping fees in the bottom quartile of college fees, Halliday added. "It's a challenge, but we are committed to keeping our fees as low as possible, whilst delivering on our big ambitions. An increase of 10% is never easy, but it follows years of significant inflation and the College eating into its reserves. We also took the decision to limit the increase to Trainee fees to 5%, reflecting the particularly challenging environment that they are operating in."

Also, she insisted the Dubai conference was brought to the RCR by Dubai Health "as an opportunity to build links in the region and enable our (growing) global membership to attend an event. There has been no financial contribution made by the RCR to this event; it was supported entirely by its Dubai sponsors." She also said the RCR is planning to release a statement soon about the increase in fees.

Finance matters

Another source told AuntMinnieEurope.com that "the crucial thing is to carry your fellows with you. A membership organisation has to demonstrate its worth, its value for money, and its attempts at cost cutting."

Historically the RCR has been very transparent and open about its financial affairs, the source noted. "But I felt it was clumsy and a bit tone-deaf to announce a 10% rise when inflation is 3% without really explaining why or without at least reassuring the fellowship about how money is being saved. The main thing is that the RCR enjoys a high percentage of U.K. radiologists as fellows and fixed costs. If radiologists renounce their membership, fee rises can result in a paradoxical drop in income."

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