Planning for the Best

Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology 2012-2022

Quantifying the 2012 Workforce Availability

This gap between the current rate of radiotherapy under-utilisation (38.1%) and the target rate (52.3%) represents the magnitude of the unmet need for radiation oncology services in Australia. To close this gap, appropriate radiation oncology infrastructure and workforce are required. Assuming that appropriate facilities were to be put in place, the table below summarises the number of radiation oncology professionals required in 2012.

Current workforce and required workforce: 2012
Profession Available workforce 2012 Workforce required to meet target utilisation rate of 52.3% (FTE) Shortfall
Radiation Oncologists 259 415 156
Radiation Therapists 1447 2073 626
Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists 203 415 212


Issues impacting on the workforce

Stakeholder consultation identified a number of factors that impact on the radiation oncology workforce, these include:

  • Uncertain funding mix and regulatory environments for both senior and trainee workforces;

  • The ageing of the workforce;

  • Increasing trend towards part-time work; and flexible work hours;

  • Perceived issues of early retirement or exit of experienced professionals from the workforce;

  • Perceived declining attraction of the professions;

  • Increasing dependence on overseas recruitment;

  • Increased training requirements necessitating more volunteer time from supervisors;

  • Difficulty for existing accredited training facilities to balance the increasing demand for training positions and provision of clinical services;

  • Reported difficulties for jurisdictional health departments to maintain staff salary increases and competition between jurisdictions and facilities for skilled workforce;

  • Challenges in funding the difference between the actual salary for training positions and the Commonwealth funding received;

  • Increasing demand and changes to the workforce mix due to the opening of regional cancer centres.

There are also a number of issues specific to the each individual profession in radiation oncology sector:

  • Some jurisdictions have reported they have half the number of radiation oncologists they require now;

  • Widely reported deficiencies in the number of training positions for ROMPs;

  • The status of Commonwealth funding for ROMP and RT training positions is uncertain;

  • There is a significant disparity in remuneration for ROMPs across the Australia, creating a system where graduates flock to states with higher remuneration;

  • Radiation Therapists post National Professional Development Programme (NPDP) often exit the profession because positions are not available. Although some hope this will be remedied when the new regional radiation oncology treatment centres open, the problem may remain because some graduates may not wish to relocate for work.