News, Secondary Care

Telemedicine Clinic warns of looming radiology capacity crisis for NHS in new report on European radiology

Telemedicine Clinic (TMC), Europe’s largest provider of teleradiology and pathology services, has today released a study that shows the NHS and other EU healthcare systems are facing a dramatic crisis unless something is done to bridge the radiology capacity gap in the short, medium and long term.

The report found that the NHS has the most profound capacity challenge of all major EU healthcare systems, and the lowest number of practicing radiologists per capita, which means that it will be unable to cope with predicted demand in the coming years.

The key findings of the UK section of the report are:

  • The UK has by far the lowest number of practicing radiologists per capita of any of the countries analysed, with only 4.7 radiologists per 100,000 population
  • In order to close this gap, the UK would require eight full-time equivalent radiologists per capita by 2022
  • At current rates of growth, the UK will simply be unable to cope with the predicted increase in demand for computerised axial tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations in the short, medium and long term
  • Radical solutions are required to support the current workforce and to enable them to work efficiently to face this challenge

According to Henrik Agrell, Vice President and Co-Founder of Telemedicine Clinic: “The chronic lack of qualified radiologists in the UK means that there is now an urgent need to develop a solid recruitment pipeline, and we need to do it fast. The Royal College of Radiology has already publicly highlighted this threat and has confirmed that the training and recruitment of radiologists is one of its top strategic priorities over the next decade.

“It’s absolutely vital that we plan for this as a profession and act now to ensure this crisis does not threaten patient safety or our ability to provide quality diagnostics in the future. We need to find innovative ways to foster new radiology skills by investing in training and encouraging greater efficiency through innovation, such as implementing radiology networks to help to relieve the pressure on the NHS.”

Dr. George McInnes, Consultant Radiologist at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust added: “The main threat to our profession’s ability to deliver is the acute shortage of radiologists across Europe. We must find new ways of solving this crisis before it is too late and that means we need to think creatively about how we approach professional training, recruitment and work conditions so we attract qualified radiologists and keep them motivated to stay in our healthcare systems. The challenges are different across various European countries, but the crisis is most apparent in the UK. We need to act now.”