New Imaging and Oncology Forum statement on service pressure in diagnostic imaging

Published 03/11/2022

In common with many other specialities, particularly in diagnostic imaging, the echo workforce is under constant pressure to deliver more with less. This pressure is contributing significantly to the loss of highly specialised echocardiographers from the profession, exacerbating the issues further.

For some time the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has been collecting data on the issues facing the workforce and working with other bodies to address the issues, for instance supporting the National School for Healthcare Science initiatives, working with NHSE on triage guidance and sharing best practice and contributing to the Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel on Workforce. We are also delighted to work and support our partner organisations on the Imaging and Oncology Forum. As a result of our shared experience regarding diagnostic imaging pressures, the Forum has released this statement highlighting the concerns regarding the current approach. The Forum believes that the policy demand to increase caseload presents risks to patients, through hurried examinations and curtailed time for image viewing, analysis and reporting, as well as to the workforce themselves through the stress of being forced to compromise on the high standards of care that they have been trained to deliver. Furthermore, in terms of the echo workforce, a policy driven by doing increased scans more quickly risks increased musculoskeletal injury in an already diminished group.

In its statement, the Imaging and Oncology Forum calls on UK health departments, policy bodies and hospital boards to act immediately to manage those elements of service demand that are within their control, particularly through a relaxation of pressure to maximise bookings of elective and non-urgent cases. We further request urgent attention in all healthcare provision to support staff health and wellbeing, including through ensuring regular and adequate breaks from work, guaranteeing provision of annual leave and support for any affected by illness.

Read the statement