Pathologists and Physicians in United Kingdom Comment on How Shortage of Medical Laboratory Professionals Could Soon Delay Essential Diagnostic, Therapeutic Testing
As chronic disease and aging populations strain the UK’s medical systems, staffing shortages at pathology laboratories contribute to lengthening delays of critical diagnostic services
In the United Kingdom (UK), pathologists and other physicians are going public with their concerns that a growing shortage of pathologists and medical laboratory scientists will soon contribute to delays in performing the lab tests needed to diagnose patients—particularly those with cancer—and identify which therapies will work best for them.
Thanks to vast improvements to both medical laboratory capabilities and treatment options, the cancer survival rate in the UK doubled over the past four decades. However, early diagnosis is a critical component to a successful outcome. As further strain is placed on medical laboratories and diagnostic providers, wait times continue to increase beyond the thresholds created by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Worsening an already dire situation, a November 2016 report from Cancer Research UK, “Testing Times to Come? An Evaluation of Pathology Capacity Across the UK,” predicts a critical shortage in laboratory staffing within the next decade. Data on Provider-based Cancer Waiting Times for August 2016 from National Health Service England shows that 17.2% of patients with an urgent referral for suspected cancer fail to start treatment within two months of the referral. (more…)