Radio therapy

The researches find that the ultrasound departments shows that continuous personnel changes are a major cause of the now serious shortage of ultrasound staff in the NHS. Therefore This shortage has led to delays in diagnosis and cancellations of operations. The work is present at the UK Imaging and Oncology Congress in Liverpool.

Continuous personnel changes

They have actually asked ultrasound departments what is leading to the bottleneck, and answer is clear: lack of stability within the departments means that expertise is lost and training can’t take place. Because Couple this with a general shortage of money; fewer people entering the discipline; and pressure to meet targets with declining workforce means that many NHS ultrasound departments are stretch very close to breaking point.”

Ultrasound is routinely used within the NHS for a variety of imaging tests; such as during pregnancy and for cancer screening. The demand for ultrasound has risen from around 4m per year in 1996 to around 10m per year currently, but there is a serious shortage of UK ultrasound staff (sonographers).

Variety of imaging tests

A 2014 survey from the Society of Radiographers said that 18.1% of sonography vacancies were unfilled, and the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee lists sonography on the Shortage Occupation List. Researchers carried out semi-structured telephone interviews with 20 ultrasound department Heads in the North of England (18 NHS; 2 private) to try to understand what were the main factors contributing to the problems within ultrasound departments.

Until now, people have largely worked on the basis that ‘Understaffing is understaffing’, and that filling vacant positions would solve any problems. What we have found is that; aside from ultrasound positions not being filled; there are structural problems which simply introducing new personnel won’t overcome. For example; as workloads increase there is greater pressure for senior personnel to take early retirement.

Filling vacant positions

New people come in and do well and then they move on: they move because they can find better positions; which means that some departments do well but most have problems. Therefore This means that these departments have to buy in temporary sonographers; which is expensive but which also chips away at the sense that you can build working; relationships and personal friendships within the department.

What this means is that there is little room for training, mentoring or for developing the culture of trust which you need in such things as cancer imaging. The discipline has just become less attractive”. There are several factors contributing to this shortage, this work is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the problem. We are working with Health Education England and other stakeholders in a major project to address the sonographer shortage.