Funding is urgently needed in the medical physics and clinical engineering workforce, because it is approaching the point of being unable to deliver safe and effective services underpinning the NHS, according to a new report.
The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) has published a statement on current workforce shortfalls within medical physics and clinical engineering (MPCE) and calls for action to be taken to combat the challenges being experienced by the workforce.
In a letter to deputy chief scientific officer for NHS England Angela Douglas and workforce programme lead Helen Ross, IPEM president Dr Robert Farley said lack of funding, a drop in the number of training places and a previous reliance on staff from overseas reflects a failure to plan and develop the workforce from within the UK.
Dr Farley stated: “Clinical scientists, technologists and engineers are a subgroup of the healthcare science workforce and play vital roles in the delivery of modern healthcare. For the last 10 years, it has been clear this workforce is approaching the point of being unable to deliver the safe and effective services underpinning our NHS.
“Training numbers have consistently failed to keep pace with workforce turnover and the difficulty in meeting statutory medical physics expert requirements illustrates the significant challenges relating to career progression within MPCE. Previous attempts to boost recruitment by attracting staff from overseas reflect the failure to plan and develop the workforce from within the UK.”
In the letter, Dr Farley said IPEM’s Workforce Intelligence Unit (WIU) has routinely surveyed and evaluated information relating to staffing levels within the MPCE workforce since 2013. From this, the WIU and IPEM volunteers have developed workforce models for multiple specialisms within MPCE to provide guidance outlining the essential requirements for a safe and effective workforce. These models have been critical in determining the established workforce shortfall in several areas and have emphasised the need for further funding dedicated to increasing the workforce establishment.
IPEM’s view is that the primary solution to redress workforce shortages would be an increase in the amount of funding available and expanding the number of MPCE training posts. In addition, funding should be available to enable development of workforce skills to reach a safe establishment of experienced staff and certified medical physics experts to ensure the workforce has a proficient and sustainable skill mix. “Without swift and decisive action, 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,” Dr Farley said.
Picture: Clinical scientists, technologists and engineers play vital roles in the delivery of modern healthcare.
Published on page 3 of the June 2023 issue of RAD Magazine.