Royal College of Radiologists comments on NHS plan to detect diseases earlier

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has earmarked £20.5 billion (approximately $26 billion) for its Long-Term Plan to prevent and detect diseases earlier. The ambitious 10-year plan is welcomed by The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and could save as many as 500,000 lives. 

“We are pleased the plan features such a strong emphasis on cancer detection, with the introduction of dated targets for diagnostic turnaround and early diagnosis, coupled with some acknowledgement from NHS England that diagnostic capacity is currently lacking,” Nicola Strickland, MD, president of the RCR, said in an online statement.

Strickland also noted that the RCR is "delighted" by the fact that NHS plans to use some of the funds to invest in new equipment, including CT and MRI scanners. In addition, part of the plan will implement a 28-day referral-to-diagnosis standard, which Strickland said should speed up diagnosis and reduce patient anxiety.

However, radiologist shortages across the U.K. may hinder the plan. A recently issued workforce report showed that, in 2017, the NHS spent $150 million for radiology outsourcing. The shortage is impacting patient care. While the plan does not specifically mention the hiring of more radiologists, the NHS’ plan mentioned “growing the medical workforce.”

“As many have said, and the plan acknowledges, the future of the NHS depends on its people,” Strickland noted in her statement.