Recruitment of radiation therapists is crucial to the success of Ireland’s cancer strategy

SIPTU representatives have said that the recruitment and retention of radiation therapists must be central to improving cancer services. The statement was made as the Dáil prepares to debate a Sinn Féin motion this evening (Tuesday, 16th April) which calls for increased funding for the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, John McCamley, said: “While there has been record investment in the health service, the HSE employment census shows that between December 2019 and February 2024, there has only been a 2% increase in the number of funded radiation therapists employed in the public healthcare system. That is an increase which is equal to only four full-time funded positions.

“That is even though the National Cancer Strategy 2017 – 2026 envisaged a significant increase in the need for oncology radiation services which are delivered by radiation therapists.

“Last month SIPTU reported that at least six machines used in the delivery of radiation therapy were lying unused in hospitals across the country. This included machines in St. Luke’s Oncology Network in Dublin, Cork University Hospital and Galway University Hospital. This is down to a lack of radiation therapists on staff to operate the machines.

He added: “SIPTU representatives have highlighted the need to address the staffing crisis through the progression of the radiation therapy review and the need for a comprehensive strategy for retaining experienced staff.

“We also want to see an expansion of undergraduate and postgraduate places to increase recruitment of radiation therapists as well as support for students during clinical placement. All these measures will assist in supporting staff in providing these vital services.”