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Introduction

Who is this code for?

This document is for all members of the Society of Radiographers and replaces the Code of Conduct and Ethics published by the Society of Radiographers in 2008.1 It differs from it in two distinct ways; firstly it is inclusive of the professional workforce for diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy regardless of their role or place of work and whether or not they are registered by a statutory or voluntary regulatory body and secondly, it also applies to students and trainees where appropriate.

The Code of Professional Conduct is one of a number of legal, ethical and professional frameworks that govern practice in the four countries of the United Kingdom. In particular, it accepts and builds on the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (HCPC 2012)2 by contextualising these generic, threshold standards for registrants to the practices of the student, trainee, assistant and professional workforce (including service managers) in diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy.

Scope of Practice

Autonomous professional practice entails the exercise of judgement and decision making through a complex process of assessment and action that involves the interaction of knowledge, experience, values and practical skills. Within the roles and sectors described in the Scope of Practice 2013 (SCoR 2013)3, individual members of the professional workforce are able to develop and manage their own practice as autonomous practitioners.  It is a moral and ethical activity that demands high standards of reflective practice and professional behaviour. Although not autonomous practitioners in their own right, students, trainees and assistant practitioners are subject to the same moral and ethical imperatives applied to their more restricted scope of practice.

Accountability

Autonomy entails accountability, which is the authority to make decisions about care and treatment and the freedom to act within a defined scope of professional practice. The concept of accountability has been usefully framed within the four pillars of professional, ethical, law and employment by Caulfield (cited in Jasper 2006).4 The professional pillar relates to published standards of professional practice by professional and statutory bodies, while the ethical pillar derives from social values and individual moral codes. In terms of law, both civil and criminal law govern all practice, with employment setting out roles, responsibilities, authorities and expectations of individual posts in contracts of employment. As individual professional practitioners you are fully accountable at all times for the quality of the compassionate care and treatment that you offer.

The publication of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry (Francis) Report (2013)5 is a timely reminder to the entire workforce, and those who aspire to be part of it, that the duties and responsibilities of practitioners set out by the framework of accountability are non-negotiable.  The report’s core message is ‘put patients first’ and it stresses the need for a renewed focus on patient safety and quality of compassionate care. This applies to all members of the workforce even those who do not work directly with patients. Managers have a vital role in policing compliance with standards and fostering a climate of prioritising patients.  Professional accountability that puts patients at the centre also requires practitioners to work collaboratively and challenge poor practice when it is seen, either directly or by escalating the concern. 

Role of SCoR

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) gives professional leadership, guides and supports professional development and offers accreditation to practitioners who meet its standards of practice. This revised Code of Professional Conduct puts patients at the centre of everything that is done. It expects conduct in practice that reflects this aspiration based on the values of respect, empowerment, empathy, trustworthiness, integrity and justice. Of equal importance is the need to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in the profession as a whole.

Structure of the Code

The Code has four sections; relationships with patients and carers, scope of professional practice, personal standards in professional practice, and relationships with other health care staff. Each section comprises a series of statements of professional conduct, underpinned by some additional clarification that contextualises them to the radiographic workforce and some resources/ links to legislation, professional and policy guidance where relevant.

References

1) Society and College of Radiographers, 2008. Code of conduct and ethics
http://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/code-conduct-and-ethics
2) Health and Care Professions Counci, 2012. Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics
http://www.hpc-uk.org/assets/documents/10003B6EStandardsofconduct,performanceandethics.pdf
3) Society and College of Radiographers, 2013. The Scope of Practice 2013
http://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/scope-practice-2013
4) Caulfield, P (cited in Jasper M). Vital Notes for Nurses. Professional Development, Reflection and Decision Making. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006.
5) Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry (Francis) Report , 2013. TSO
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc09/0947/0947.pdf
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc08/0898/0898_i.pdf
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc08/0898/0898_ii.pdf
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc08/0898/0898_iii.pdf

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