Department planning during UK radiologist shortages

UK Radiologist Shortage

Based on the results of a census released by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) on September 10th, the lack of radiologists in the U.K. is getting worse. The need for imaging services has continued to increase while the number of radiologists has not. Ninety-nine percent of U.K. radiology departments could not meet demands for scan and x-ray reporting – almost everyone.

The latest RCR census is added proof that the U.K. radiologist shortage is critical. It revealed that there has been a decline in the number of radiologists available while the need for their services has increased. The consultant radiologist workforce growth has been well below the need for their services at least since 2012 based on previous polls. A solution is truly needed.

Teleradiology for Home-working

One part of addressing this is using teleradiology to enable flexible working from home for hospital staff.

Factors to include when setting up the home-working environment are:

  • Workstation and display specifications

  • Internet connection download speed

  • Image viewer software, which may be different to PACS

  • Providing the radiology information system for report entry

  • High-volume plain film lists or ad-hoc reporting

  • List management and alerting

  • Indemnity cover for the home reporting radiologist

  • Insuring equipment against loss or damage.

Teleradiology for internal staff can either use a VPN to extend the entire hospital network into the home, PACS and all. Or it can pre-cache imaging and just run RIS over the VPN. This would depend on volume of imaging (eg plain-film bulk reporting vs emergency on-call), as well as PACS workstation responsiveness over VPN vs using different reporting software.

Home reporting can be especially suited to use-cases where previous imaging and other results such as bloods, histopathology, etc are not relevant, for example night time on-call or A&E plain film reporting.

Home working contracts can be based on work volume rather than time. If so, it is recommended that this is separate to any contract for work within the department.

Requirements for annual appraisal and GMC revalidation are the same for home reporting radiologists as for radiologists working within the department and may require financial support from the trust.

Some on site work may be necessary to facilitate supporting professional activities such as continuing professional development (CPD), scientific meetings, audit etc.

Further reading

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