A Data-driven Approach to Planning Radiotherapy Workforce Requirements

January 26, 2024 • Reading time 3 minutes

There is no greater source of pressure in the NHS at the moment than staff shortages. Rising demand, growing complexity and lengthening waitlists, combined with high turnover, absence and staff leaving the NHS post-Covid, have created a gap between demand and supply of staff.

Understanding and responding to this gap is a complex problem across the health system. Doing so requires a detailed understanding of future workforce requirements and innovation in model and roles. By partnering with Dearden HR, award winning HR and OD consultants, we are able to combine our robust analytics and understanding of data with bespoke people and OD solutions.

West London, Surrey & Sussex Radiotherapy Operational Delivery Network

One example of our work together was with the West London Surrey & Sussex (WLSS) Radiotherapy Operational Delivery Network (ODN). The ODN, which comprises 4 radiotherapy providers, sought to understand their future workforce requirements and opportunities to innovate and implement a new workforce model to meet demand.


Our approach revolved around three workstreams. The first two supported the development of a rich evidence base, through modelling of future demand and activity and gaining a detailed understanding of the ODN’s current workforce status. These efforts formed the groundwork for assessing the future workforce requirement and developing an action plan for meeting this requirement. Our approach was designed to ensure that the final outputs are rigorous in detail and evidence, innovative in approach, built off existing best practice and co-developed with providers and ODN leadership.

The modelling was built on anonymised attendance-level data collected from each provider. This level of detail allowed for robust modelling of the workforce requirements of current and future activity, considering changes in complexity, treatment type and pathway. This was supported by workforce data and staff engagement, including a questionnaire and interviews to better understand each Trust’s workforce model, as well as staff motivation and job satisfaction at each of the Trusts.  This multi-faceted approach ensured a comprehensive understanding of the present workforce landscape and laid the groundwork for informed workforce planning and recommendations.

Future demand was modelled based on a range of scenarios, considering changing population, demographics, population health and cancer treatment. This modelling informed future workforce requirement scenarios. An interactive workforce planning tool was developed alongside the final report, enabling scenario analysis for future workforce shortfalls or surpluses based on Trust-specific assumptions.

“Partnering with Edge Health allows us to develop recommendations and an implementation plan which is based on clear and rigorous data analysis.”

Michelle Hodgkinson, Director, Dearden HR   


Based on the demand and capacity modelling and our understanding of current staffing levels, we calculated the additional establishment and in-post WTE required to meet the recommended level of staffing. The work also developed a series of recruitment and retention interventions, including regarding:

  • Apprenticeships
  • International recruitment
  • Active retention and support
  • Development roles
  • Flexible working

The combination of quantified workforce gaps and recommended interventions has provided the ODN and each Trust with a strategy for addressing future workforce pressures. This is currently being taken forward within the ODN.


Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.