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Background

Non medical consultant posts are relatively new to the National Health Service (NHS) workforce. Initially, these posts were created within the Nursing Profession but this was followed soon afterwards by the Allied Health Professions in 2001(1). The Advance Letter from the Department of Health outlined the arrangements to provide new opportunities for Allied Health Professions so that the NHS could provide new career opportunities for experienced and expert staff, with a target of 250 Consultant AHPs by 2004(2,3). This detailed how posts and funding had to be approved, initially at regional level, and gave details of pay, assessment of posts and appointments procedures.

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) supported the appointment of consultant radiographers within the ‘four tier’ career progression model, first piloted by clinical imaging skills mix project(4), and developed guidance on appointment of consultant posts(5).

The consultant practitioner is defined as someone with the appropriate education and training who is able to provide clinical leadership within a specialism, bringing strategic direction, innovation and influence through practice, research and education to the post4. It was acknowledged that the role was introduced to enhance service delivery and hence improve patient outcomes and was not about replacing a consultant medical practitioner with a consultant AHP practitioner.

The NHS modernisation agency(6) stated that the introduction of the role of consultant AHP should lead to:

  • better patient outcomes
  • new career opportunities
  • development of the workforce
  • retention of clinical maturity in the workforce
  • improved recruitment and retention
  • strengthened professional leadership
  • recognition of extended roles
  • proper and fair reward

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