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..