Cautious welcome given to new Health Secretary


A CAUTIOUS welcome has been given to the latest Health Secretary by IPEM.

Following the Cabinet reshuffle after Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP becomes the fifth person to become Health Secretary since Matt Hancock resigned in June 2021.

While she inherits an overflowing inbox from her predecessor Steve Barclay – doctors’ pay negotiations, winter pressures on the NHS and the latest figures for England in October showing the worst A&E performance this year – Ms Atkins also needs to address the workforce issues IPEM has been highlighting.

Earlier this year, IPEM released a statement on the workforce shortfalls and recruitment outlook within medical physics and clinical engineering (MPCE), which restated calls for urgent action to be taken to address the shortages in this crucial area.

Workforce plan

Will Quince MP, the Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care, wrote to IPEM in response to that statement about the workforce shortages. He wrote after the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to say the government recognised the current pressures facing the NHS workforce. The plan itself, though, made no mention of the MPCE community.

IPEM has continued to shine a light on the workforce issues, with the recent publication of the outcomes of the ultrasound physics workforce survey and the magnetic resonance physics workforce survey, both showing high vacancy rates and an overworked and under-appreciated workforce.

Dr Anna Barnes, IPEM’s President, said: ‘Victoria Atkins must urgently address workforce shortages in healthcare science in general and in the MPCE community in particular.

‘Unless the Government is prepared to tackle the lack of investment and inadequate numbers of training places in healthcare science they will not make inroads into the backlogs, particularly in cancer diagnosis and treatment. We urgently need investment in people and equipment.’

IPEM statement on the medical physics and clinical engineering workforce