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Current Position

Appointment of consultant practitioners in diagnostic and therapeutic radiography, to date, has been slow despite the professional drive to develop roles owing to a number of reasons including:

  • a deficiency in suitably qualified and experienced candidates
  • a lack of clearly defined educational and clinical pathways and post registration education to support these new roles
  • reluctance of some NHS Trusts/Boards and  diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy service departments to identify service needs in those departments which could be led appropriately and effectively by non medical practitioners
  • some misunderstanding of the role of the consultant radiographer by colleagues
  • a ‘wait and see’ approach by clinical departments.

All these points require addressing but, in addition, there, is the requirement for proper succession planning to ensure that those posts which have already been developed remain viable should a current post holder vacate the position. This requires departmental managers and consultant radiographers already in post to encourage and up-skill motivated staff with the appropriate talents and drive to secure a supply of suitable candidates able to apply for consultant posts as vacancies arise.

Equally, there is the need to develop staff to support current consultant post holders to provide continuity of services to patients and referrers when consultant practitioners take annual leave or are ill.  A further pressing reason to develop staff in this way is to provide a supply of suitable applicants for new consultant posts as more of these are established in the future; it is likely that growth in the numbers of consultant radiographer posts will continue for some years. 

A survey of the Society of Radiographers’ consultant practitioners group showed that there was concern with the overall development of consultant practitioner posts, as well as with the succession planning necessary to fill vacancies with appropriately skilled radiographic colleagues should current consultants leave their posts. The group identified a number of barriers to greater provision and acceptance of consultant posts which included:

  • motivation for staff to strive for a very limited number of consultant posts, and the limited remuneration for this work. Agenda for Change was specifically cited as one of the problems, rather than the incentive it was supposed to be,
  • the perceived threat of consultant radiographer posts to radiologists/oncologists or other team members, this appears to be particularly acute in diagnostic departments,
  • a poor understanding of the role of a consultant radiographer  and how they fit into clinical departments,
  • low levels of enthusiasm by clinical and general managers for consultant radiographer posts.

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