RT is an essential component of cancer care and recommended in approximately 50% of cancer patients. The arrival of the Covid 19 pandemic in January 2020 required urgent planning and restructuring in RT departments worldwide to maintain this essential service, with Radiation Therapists (RTTs) at the forefront of RT planning and delivery.
The ESTRO Radiation Oncology Safety and Quality Committee (ROSQC), addressing the issues of safety and quality in RT practice, in collaboration with the ESTRO RTT Committee, representing the professional issues and needs of RTTs, initiated a survey to investigate how RTTs adapted their clinical environment to maintain the provision of RT services and reduce the risk of COVID 19 transmission.
The initial survey was based (with full permission) on a similar survey carried out by Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies. The extended survey consisted of both demographic questions and questions covering the four key topics essential to accurate and safe practice: Patient Care, Remote Working, RTT Practice and RTT Workflow. The survey was open for three weeks with participation from 229 respondents across 27 countries.
Results will be analysed in the context of the publication Meeting the challenges imposed by COVID-19: Guidance document by the ESTRO Radiation TherapisT Committee. Respondents reported wide variations in RT practice and departmental preparedness for the pandemic. Issues relating to remote working in the RT process (the new normal across many sectors) will be reported and the potential impact on future RT practice.
A safe clinical environment is essential for RTTs (as front-line healthcare workers) and patients in their care. Findings from this initial experience of COVID-19 will form the basis of RT practice recommendations to support and strengthen a safe clinical environment in the event of future pandemics.