The U.K. Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) approves of the Labour Party's proposals to improve the early diagnosis of cancer.
"We very much welcome the focus on early diagnosis of cancer, which, if these ambitious plans can be realized, would be very good news for patients," said RCR President Dr. Giles Maskell. "We are especially pleased to see the recognition of the crucial role of imaging in diagnosis."
The main problem with diagnosing cancer early is the shortage of radiologists in the U.K., the RCR said. There are about 48 trained radiologists per 1 million people -- a figure that has been static for the past five years. Other European countries have higher figures: 78 per million in Germany, 107 in Sweden, and 113 in France. Also, for the last 10 years the number of CT scans performed has increased by 10.3% each year and by 12% each year for MRI exams.
The RCR suggests that the first priority for any additional investment in early diagnosis should be training additional radiologists to begin to address the severe shortfall.
"A large proportion of the 750 million pounds to be allocated to diagnostic tests should be devoted to training additional radiologists to begin to address the severe shortfall," the RCR said.
After expanding the workforce, RCR's second priority would be investment in the IT infrastructure needed to support new models of service delivery by networking radiology services between National Health Service (NHS) organizations.
"The value of any further investment in modern scanning equipment could only be realized once the workforce and infrastructure issues have been addressed," the RCR concluded.