SIPTU Radiation therapists forced to work extended days to complete cancer treatments

SIPTU members employed as radiation therapists are struggling to provide cancer treatments within the working day.

In a recent survey of members conducted among union members, 91% of respondents said that their location provided an ‘overrun service’ in order to keep on top of caseloads.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, John McCamley, said: “An overrun service occurs when the scheduled service runs beyond the normal finish time. This can happen for a variety of reasons such as the addition of an emergency patient who requires treatment, delays with scheduled treatments throughout the day, machine breakdowns and to accommodate patients on waiting lists. Most radiation therapists will continue to treat scheduled patients until they are all seen.

“Our members have said this is as the result of a stretched service which is in desperate need of more radiation therapists to meet demand. They have also said that the practice is leading to burnout and difficulties with childcare. However, they are doing it out of care for the patients they are treating.”

Separately, the survey revealed that 84% of respondents believed that the public at large was not aware of the role of the radiation therapist in treating cancer.

McCamley continued: “Critically, our members feel as though their role is not recognised as being as crucial as it is in the treatment of cancer. Respondents felt that there is an awareness of the role that chemotherapy and surgery plays in the treatment of cancer, but not radiation therapy. This is despite the fact that radiation therapy is one of the main treatments of cancer.

“There is a view among our membership that you will likely not appreciate the significance of the the role of the radiation therapist unless you’re unfortunate enough to require their help some day.”

The SIPTU Radiation Therapist survey was completed in February 2023 across public and private practice. There are currently approximately 300 radiation therapists practicing in Ireland. Radiation therapy uses targeted high energy x-rays to treat patients with cancer..

SIPTU members in National Ambulance Service vote overwhelmingly for strike action

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute resulting from the failure of management to fully implement the recommendations of a report on the reform and modernisation of the service.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Ted Kenny, said: “The ballot which was counted on Friday (5th May) has returned a result of more than 95% in favour of strike action. The dispute has resulted from a failure of NAS management to fully implement the recommendation of the Review of Roles and Responsibilities Report which was jointly commissioned by the NAS, SIPTU and the HSE in 2018.

“This huge vote in favour of taking action demonstrates our members’ determination to ensure their employer honours its agreement in full when it comes to implementing widespread reform at the NAS.

“Our members have fully co-operated with a plan drawn up by management to develop the service and they expect commitments concerning new grades and pay scales, which were made to them, to be met. It is the function of management to secure the necessary funding to deliver the agreed vision for the service. This includes any payments arising to staff as part of their overall restructuring plan.”

He added: “We have advised NAS management of the outcome of our ballot. The exact date and nature of the industrial action that will now be taken will be finalised in consultation with our members.”