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There are now numerous examples of successful implementation of consultant radiographer posts and many of these post-holders are members of the Society of Radiographers’ consultant radiographers group. These individuals are highly skilled and motivated and are exemplars for clinical imaging and radiotherapy services to draw on.

Despite this, it has been reported that consultant radiographer level developments are not supported in some departments, particularly clinical imaging departments. A recent survey conducted by The Royal College of Radiologists also identified that some of its radiology members and fellows felt that the role of consultant radiographer was unnecessary although it is important to recognise that the survey was designed only to elicit opinion.

Nevertheless, where radiologists are questioning the validity of consultant radiographer roles, this may be communicated to senior managers with the consequence that consultant post developments are slowed down considerably or stopped altogether.

A further factor is the recent increase in the number of specialist registrars undergoing radiology training. In some centres, the clinical training requirements of the radiology trainees has taken precedence over the development of radiographers with an adverse impact on advanced and consultant level radiographic practice. Concern has also been expressed that there will not be consultant radiology posts available at the end of training owing, in part, to advanced and consultant practice radiographers ‘filling the gaps’.  

Radiotherapy and Oncology departments seem to have fewer obstacles in the path of consultant radiographer developments, probably due to the recognition that the NHS Cancer Plan(8) and the Cancer Reform Strategy(9) cannot be delivered without extended role radiographers.

Regardless of the above, it is important to note that, at present, no threats to existing consultant radiographer posts have been identified. However, turnover in relation to such posts is extremely low and it is difficult to predict whether any of the current posts would disappear if the post-holders were to leave employment. Given that these posts were created to fulfil identified service needs and subject to succession planning becoming more robust, they should be secure while those service needs that were originally identified remain. Without doubt, the posts will have proved to be cost effective and local audit should be able to substantiate their clinical and service effectiveness.

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