The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) has welcomed the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan to help improve healthcare.
Aspects IPEM has particularly welcomed are the focus on innovation in the NHS and investment in new equipment for imaging and radiotherapy, including CT and MRI scanners. These areas will, however, be very dependent on resources being made available and the Institute is pleased that the Plan also commits to addressing staffing levels.
Professor Mark Tooley, IPEM’s President, said:
‘As an organisation of healthcare scientists and engineers, we are pleased to see the prominence which the Long Term Plan has placed on research and innovation to drive improvements in healthcare in the future. I hope the new advisory service for innovators, linked to the Academic Health Science Networks, will provide a much simpler, clearer system so that proven and affordable innovations do get to patients faster.
‘It is equally pleasing to see the emphasis placed on advanced radiotherapy techniques and we look forward to seeing the detailed timetable to complete the proposed £130m upgrade of radiotherapy machines across England. We also welcome the planned reforms to the specialised commissioning payments for hypofractionated radiotherapy to help support future equipment upgrades.
‘We are delighted to see the planned investment in new equipment, including CT and MRI scanners, is highlighted, and again we look forward to further details being made available about this.
‘IPEM has a Workforce Intelligence Unit which monitors the NHS’s medical physics and engineering workforces. It recently published research showing there is a very high vacancy rate in medical physics, with more than 1 in 9 Clinical Scientist posts in diagnostic radiology physics vacant, rising to nearly 1 in 5 of entry-level posts. There is a similar picture amongst the diagnostic radiology technologists, with 1 in 8 posts vacant. Some posts have been advertised several times but the vacant posts remain unfilled.’
Responding to the workforce section of the Plan, Professor Tooley said:
‘The future of the NHS depends on its people and the plan duly acknowledges that. Workforce planning is crucial, especially during this time of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its associated implications, specifically with regards to the medical physics workforce, which IPEM has highlighted numerous times.
‘The plan talks about the effectiveness of national recruitment campaigns, and while it discusses developing annual campaigns in conjunction with the Royal Colleges and trade unions, professional bodies such as IPEM are also keen to assist with these campaigns. Such campaigns need to be run hand-in-hand with an expansion of capacity on national training programmes for healthcare scientists.
‘We are confident that IPEM members will continue to play a vital role in providing a cutting-edge healthcare service to patients as part of their significant contribution to the Long Term Plan.’
IPEM members can log-in here to see a summary of the NHS Long Term Plan and how it affects medical physics and clinical engineering.
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