The Government must urgently expand the number of third-level places in radiation therapy or face a major crisis, SIPTU warned the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, this week.
The union, along with Higher Education representatives, met with the Minister to discuss major staffing deficits in radiation therapists across country which has had a knock-on effect on patient waiting times and left vital equipment idle.
John McCamley, SIPTU Sector Organiser, said: “Radiation therapists perform a crucial job. Almost half of people with a cancer diagnosis will require radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. This treatment is delivered by radiation therapists as part of a multi-disciplinary team and they are the only profession with the legal authority to deliver radiation therapy. These services are mainly delivered by the HSE in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
“SIPTU has successfully argued for the setting up of the radiation therapist review which will hopefully recommend measures to improve the retention of existing staff. However, there continues to be a shortage of new radiation therapist graduates and, if that continues, we are facing a major crisis.
“This week, we impressed on the Minister the need to expand undergraduate and postgraduate places to increase recruitment of radiation therapists and to offer supports for students during clinical placements. The meeting was positive and constructive. We welcome any assistance the Minister and his department can provide on this matter.”