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  • Royal College of Radiologists: Briefing for pulmonary embolism debate (November 2022)

    Article information
    • UK
    • Data, research and analysis
    • Pre-existing
    • Original author
    • No
    • Royal College of Radiologists
    • 30/11/22
    • Health and care staff, Patient safety leads


    This briefing paper, from the Royal College of Radiologists, was produced to help inform an adjournment debate in the house of commons focusing on pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis.

    The briefing highlights concerns around staffing gaps, workforce planning and equipment shortages within this area, and the threat this poses to patient safety.


    Key points from the briefing

    A Royal College of Radiologists’ survey found 41% of clinical radiologists do not have the equipment they need to deliver a safe and effective service.

    There is insufficient equipment in place to process scans quickly. The UK has fewer scanners than most comparable countries in the OECD. This equipment is also outdated. 10% of CT scanners to diagnose pulmonary embolisms are over 10 years old.

    The Royal College of Radiologists’ Workforce Census found that there is a shortfall of clinical radiology consultants specialising in chest & lung:

    • There are 28 vacancies for this specialism in England; this is a vacancy rate of 8%.
    • 50% of these vacancies have been unfilled for 1 year or more, demonstrating the shortage of these specialists and the challenges trusts are finding in recruiting full time staff.
    • The worst-off areas are the East and West Midlands with only 0.4 chest & lung specialists per 100,000 people.
    • 25% of the current clinical radiology consultants specialising in chest & lung are forecast to retire in the next 5 years, by which point demand will have increased.
    • The Royal College of Radiologists forecasts that demand for complex imaging, such as CTPAs, will only increase in the coming years. For example, England could see a 7% year on year rise over the next five years.
    • Since it takes at least 5 years to train a new generation of clinical radiologists, the Government must continue to fund the expansion of trainee places year on year if the NHS is to keep up with demand.

    Read the full briefing by opening the attached document.


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