Health Minister responds on MPCE workforce shortages


A HEALTH Minister has responded to the workforce shortages in medical physics and clinical engineering (MPCE) highlighted by IPEM.

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

Letters were sent to a number of MPs to highlight the depth of concern among the MPCE workforce about the current state of their provision within healthcare science. They were sent before the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce plan.

Will Quince MP, the Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care, has now replied to say the Government recognises the current pressures facing the NHS workforce.

NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

In the letter, Mr Quince states the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets out the steps the NHS needs to take to deliver a workforce which meets the changing needs of the population over the next 15 years.

He states the Government is backing the plan with more than £2.4 billion over the next five years to fund additional education and training places.

He adds: ‘We know healthcare scientists provide a vital service within the NHS, which is why the plan sets the ambition to increase training places for healthcare scientists by 13 per cent to more than 850 places by 2028/29. This will put us on the path to increase training places by more than 30 per cent to over 1,000 places by 2031/32.’

Mr Quince concludes by stating he will be meeting with NHS England’s Chief Scientific Officer to discuss workforce concerns and said he understood IPEM has been invited to help take forward work to improve workforce intelligence in this area to ensure concerns are addressed.

Highlighting MPCE shortages

Dr Robert Farley, IPEM’s President, said: ‘It’s very positive to get a response from the Minister. While he talked in broad terms about increasing the numbers of healthcare scientists in general as part of the NHS Workforce Plan, there was no specific mention of the medical physics and clinical engineering community, which is disappointing.

‘We have, however, raised the issue of workforce shortages within MPCE at the highest levels within government and we will continue to highlight this whenever we can.’

Dr Farley, in his response to the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan in July, said it was hugely disappointing there had been no mention of the MPCE workforce in the plan, other than a pledge to increase training places for all healthcare scientists by 13 per cent in five years’ time.

He said at the reality was this equates to only around 15 additional places a year for MPCE by 2025 and an additional 33 per year from 2028, far short of the 450 MPCE staff posts currently sitting vacant, and those vacancies will likely have increased further by 2028.

Health Minister's letter to IPEM
IPEM statement on the medical physics and clinical engineering workforce
NHS England Long Term Workforce Plan