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The way forward

The decision by departments and NHS Trusts/Boards to identify service requirements for consultant practitioners is essential. Service needs should be patient-centred and the creation of a consultant practitioner post must be driven by the intention to offer the highest standards of patient care and to improve the patient care pathway, the patient experience and the clinical outcome. The creation of a consultant post should not be related to a particular individual but to an identified service requirement such that the post does not cease when an individual leaves employment.

Service managers of clinical imaging and radiotherapy services are required to address organisational needs and service delivery requirements. However, in many cases they are also the professional lead for radiography in their departments and so need to establish a culture of lifelong learning, including a culture for research and reflection on practice. This helps to ensure that the development of staff meets organisational requirements in the rapidly changing environment of healthcare delivery. It is fully acknowledged that service requirements may not always match the aspirations of individual practitioners. Hence, it is important that service managers champion consultant radiographer posts as positive roles aligned directly to meeting service needs. Such an approach ensures that consultant posts do not detract from or adversely impinge on the service manager role. Rather, championing the consultant role enables service managers to deliver effective and efficient services. Their relationship with consultant radiographers should be symbiotic and will lead to raising the profile of the imaging or therapy department by illustrating the implementation of quality and the patient centred service within the department.

Education providers also have a key role in assisting service managers in that they need to develop education programmes that service managers can access and use to develop their consultant practitioners.

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