Address inequalities in access to radiology and oncology

Address inequalities in access to radiology and oncology

The Royal College of Radiologists is the professional membership body for doctors specialising in clinical radiology (CR) and clinical oncology (CO). We are pleased to be able to respond to this consultation. Our annual census shows that Scotland had a 24% shortfall of clinical radiologists and a 14% shortfall in clinical oncologists in 2022. These will rise to 34% and 22% by 2027 if no action is taken. Scottish census data is split into three regions in CO and four in CR. These groupings can be seen on our census data worksheets, available on our website. Each region includes both major population centres and rural areas. Our data shows that there are stark regional disparities at the national and regional levels, both in the UK and in Scotland. In the North of Scotland, there is a 44% shortfall in CR consultants. In 2022, the workforce here shrank by 2%, whilst overall the Scottish workforce grew by 4%. 26% of CR consultants in the North are due to retire within 5 years, versus 15% in the Southeast, and 90% of vacancies have been unfilled for 12+ months. NHS Orkney and NHS Shetland have no resident CR consultants; patients must travel to the mainland for MRI scans. In CO, the North also struggles when compared to the Southeast. There are only 4.9 oncologists per 100,000 people aged 50+ in the North, versus 9.1 in the Southeast. The North’s two cancer centres were ranked 52 and 45 out of 60 in the UK by this metric. The North’s CO consultant shortfall is expected to rise to 28% by 2027, versus 21% in the Southeast. Access to speedy diagnosis and cancer care is starkly unequal, with remote and rural Scottish communities at risk of receiving second-tier care. Addressing this issue should be a focus of the Scottish Government and we would be pleased to share further information with the Committee on request. Read more from our 2022 census reports at: For more information please email:


All too often, disabled people are refused access to X-rays, scans, mammograms etc. because they cannot stand, are in a wheelchair, and they are not accessible. Disabled people simply no longer count in healthcare and that comes from the ableist attitudes of decision-makers, managers, etc.

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