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01 July 2012

The role of radiography practitioners is increasing steadily across diagnostic and therapy services, according to a new survey of service managers.

Significant numbers of diagnostic departments have radiographer-led examinations in computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging and gastro-intestinal studies, including CT colonography. They are also carrying out a variety of interventional procedures. Many radiographers issue written reports and the spectrum of reporting practice has increased compared to 2008, especially in ultrasound.

In ultrasound departments, fewer are offering a service in early pregnancy and obstetrics, probably reflecting the introduction in England of the fetal anomaly screening programme and the nuchal translucency measurement as part of the combined test for Down’s syndrome. Abdominal scanning has reduced slightly but other examinations have grown in volume or been introduced when compared to a similar survey in 2008, for example musculoskeletal, vascular and breast.

There has been a three-fold increase in the proportion of departments with research radiographers. However, there has been a drop from 42 per cent to 33 per cent in the proportion of departments with radiographers with a substantive role in clinical education.

The role of the therapeutic radiographer also continues to expand with responsibilities across the entire radiotherapy pathway. In many centres these include leading an increasing range of pre-treatment, treatment and post treatment activities. All but one of the centres surveyed have therapeutic radiographers responsible for pre-treatment imaging, whilst two-thirds have a radiographer-led treatment planning service. Most centres (81%) have radiographer led on-treatment review and, in almost a third, radiographers are undertaking supplementary prescribing.

Two-thirds of centres have tumour site specialist radiographers and four out of five have technical specialist roles. There has been a 29 per cent increase in the number of centres with advanced practitioners and a 7 per cent increase of those with consultant practitioners since 2008. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of centres with research radiographers, from 61 per cent in 2008 to 70 per cent in this survey. However, as with diagnostic radiographers, there has been a drop in the proportion of centres with radiographers with a substantive role in clinical education from two thirds (67%) four years ago to just over half (51%) in this survey.

"The role development of radiographers is good for patients because it brings improvements in service delivery and efficiency," said Professor Audrey Paterson, the director of professional policy at the Society and College of Radiographers.

"We welcome the ongoing development of a workforce capable of delivering high quality, patient centred care. Radiography practitioners in both clinical imaging and radiotherapy and oncology services are key members of the inter-professional health care team. It is therefore essential that practitioners define and progress their roles to embrace innovative ways of providing services to the benefit of patients and the service."

The 'Scope of Radiographic Practice Survey 2012' can be downloaded from, as can the previous study carried out in 2008 by the University of Hertfordshire and the Institute for Employment Studies for the Society and College of Radiographers.

Notes for Editor

The 2012 survey covered 143 service managers in diagnostic imaging departments and radiotherapy service managers from 43 out of 64 centres across the UK. For further information, please contact Dominic Deeson on 01795 542435 or email

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