Thirty years to reach staff levels required - NHS Workforce plan fails to tackle the needs of medical physics and clinical engineering


THE NHS Long Term Workforce plan has failed to address urgent concerns about workforce shortages in medical physics and clinical engineering (MPCE).

While the publication of the plan by the government has addressed some of the wider workforce concerns within the NHS, there was virtually no mention of the MPCE community in it.

The news follows IPEM’s recently released statement on the current workforce shortfalls and recruitment outlook within MPCE, which restated calls for urgent action to be taken to address the shortages in this crucial area.

‘Hugely disappointing’

Dr Robert Farley, IPEM’s President, said: ‘There is a huge depth of concern among the MPCE workforce about the current state of their provision within Healthcare Science and the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce plan does nothing to alleviate that.

‘While it’s good it recognizes there is a workforce issue and something is being done, it needs to be remembered healthcare requires a multi-disciplinary team and medical physicists and clinical engineers are a key part of that.

‘It is hugely disappointing there was no mention of the MPCE workforce in the plan, other than a pledge to increase training places for all Healthcare Scientists by 13% in five years’ time. The reality though, is this equates to only around 15 additional places a year for MPCE by 2025 and an additional 33 per year from 2028, woefully far short of the 450 MPCE staff posts currently sitting vacant, and those vacancies will likely have increased further by 2028.'

Thirty years

Recommended staffing models in fact show the MPCE workforce actually requires at least 900 additional staff to come from additional training opportunities, which will be impossible to achieve by the meagre increase of training places pledged per year. At such a rate it would take close to 30 years to reach the required staffing levels.

Risk of decline

Dr Farley added: ‘IPEM has clearly outlined the scale of the issue and called for urgent action to be taken as demonstrated in the recently issued statement and is taking steps itself to address these concerns.

‘We have events being run by our Special Interest Groups looking at overcoming the workforce challenges within their particular areas, IPEM has reinstated and rejuvenated the Heads of MPCE meetings to cover each nation within the UK, and we have set up a Workforce Panel to look at all of these issues.

‘We need to address these concerns because otherwise the risk is the MPCE workforce will continue to decline. This will undoubtedly affect crucial aspects of patient care, with the potential to lead to missed or delayed diagnoses, unsafe equipment and long waiting lists for treatments/interventions.’


IPEM statement on the medical physics and clinical engineering workforce
NHS England Long Term Workforce Plan