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Radiology and radiotherapy

Radiology is the medical speciality where x-rays and other imaging technology (such as MRI and ultrasound) are used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Radiotherapy refers to the use of high-energy radiation in the treatment of cancer.


Radiological services are available in primary and secondary care. Radiotherapy is only delivered in highly specialised, designated units.



Patient safety incidents can be caused by the failure to acknowledge and act upon radiological imaging reports. The National Reporting and Learning Service (NRLS) has issued advice to the NHS on ensuring radiology imaging results are communicated and acted upon safely.



Radiotherapy is a highly complex, multi-step process that requires the input of many different staff groups in the planning and delivery of the treatment. Though errors are rare, when they do occur the consequences can be significant for the patient.


The NRLS is working in collaboration with the Royal College of Radiologists, the Health Protection Agency, the Society and College of Radiographers and other stakeholders to improve patient safety in radiotherapy. Work includes the publication of Towards Safer Radiotherapy which was developed by a working party set up by the Royal College of Radiologists.


The NRLS has also been part of a working party that has developed a reporting taxonomy for radiotherapy departments to report against, for ease of analysis and feedback from the NRLS and HPA on radiotherapy incidents.


Resources related to radiology and radiotherapy are listed below.