Strikes ‘will cut NHS wait lists’ say frustrated radiographers


The only way to reduce NHS waiting lists in Kent is to ballot for strike action, say radiography professionals in Kent and the South East.

The Society of Radiographers (SoR), the trade union and professional body for diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, has been balloting members for strike action in 27 NHS trusts in the South East, including hospitals in Maidstone, Medway, Tunbridge Wells and East Kent.

SoR members took part in an indicative ballot in April and 80 per cent voted to reject the government’s pay offer of 5 per cent plus a non-consolidated lump sum for 2022-23. The union is therefore in a formal trade dispute with the Health Secretary and with the individual NHS trusts that directly employ members.

The SoR is asking for a fair starting salary for radiography professionals, as well as a move to restore pay levels for current staff, from the 2023-24 pay award onwards. It says this would reduce pressure on members to take on excessive overtime hours and keep radiography professionals within the NHS.

Radiography professionals are responsible for carrying out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, ultrasounds and breast screening. They also provide radiotherapy for cancer patients.

There are 503 radiographers in the NHS in Kent, with 203 of them currently working in the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW). While 9 out of 10 patients in the NHS need to be supported by a radiography professional, too few are being recruited or retained, the SoR says.

Dean Rogers, Director of Industrial Strategy for SoR, said: “Waiting lists are growing and, for a cancer patient awaiting diagnosis and radiotherapy treatment, even a two-week wait can mean the difference between life and death.

“If the government wants to reduce NHS waiting lists and ensure patients receive the treatment they need when they need it, then it must urgently prioritise the recruitment and retention of radiography professionals.

As a result, one million patients across the UK are currently waiting to be seen by
a radiographer – often delaying vital diagnosis and treatment for months.  An NHS document, ‘Diagnostic Imaging Network Workforce Guidance 2022, said: “To address these challenges, The NHS Long Term Plan committed to have established imaging networks across England by 2023. This, it seems, has not happened.

A radiographer working in MTW said: “Everyone here is trying to do their best for patients. We’re all doing additional hours and duties. Still we’re seeing the waiting lists grow. Demand is growing, and activity levels are struggling to keep up with demand. We know that patients will get poorer outcomes because there’s not enough capacity.”

Radiographers’ pay has not increased in real terms since 2008. Speaking about the current cost-of-living crisis, the radiographer said: “It’s hard to run a household on my own. My mortgage has already gone up – if it goes up again, I’ll be concerned.”

He says he is voting ‘Yes’ in the SoR’s strike ballot.

“We want to do the very best, so we need to attract the best people. We want the best outcomes for our patients – for our friends and family.”

“But the Government won’t even talk to us about the fair and reasonable steps required to do this, which is why we feel we have no other option but to ballot our members for Strike action.”

The Society of Radiographers says that the government could reduce waiting lists, save lives and save taxpayers’ money by implementing a modern workforce recruitment and retention plan.

“Our members deserve better. Our patients deserve better.”

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has been approached for comment.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter