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2.1 Audit of radiotherapy centres in England

The audit tool was developed using published quality standards for placement learning. These were: Education Commissioning for Quality (ECQ) Contract Performance Metrics,5 Standards for Education and Training of the Health and Care Professions Council,6 Quality Standards for Practice Placements7   and The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Code of Practice Section 9: work-based and placement learning. 8

The tool comprised 31 statements in three categories; organisational policies and procedures, relationship with HEI(s) and radiotherapy centre practices. It used a four point likert scale for responses; strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree.  For each standard, respondents were asked to make a comment if desired and whether evidence for the response could be provided if requested.

The audit tool was piloted for scope and ease of completion by two radiotherapy service managers in another UK country. Feedback confirmed that the tool was appropriate as was the importance of asking radiotherapy service managers to complete it themselves, in conjunction with a practice education lead if desired. (See Appendix 3 for a copy of the final version).

2.2 Sample

There are 50 providers of radiotherapy services on 58 sites in England. Only those that have students on a recurring basis were included in the final sample ( N = 50). A request to complete the tool, together with log-in instructions for Survey Monkey™, was emailed to managers on 25th May 2012 and two reminders were sent. Of the 50 centres, 48 completed the survey, one partially completed it and one centre did not respond. Data was gathered from the latter by including this centre in the visits.

2.3 Site visits

Following the descriptive analysis of the survey audit tool, the Steering Group determined 10 sites to be visited, which constituted a 20% sample. These comprised centres from each of the >95% compliant, >80% compliant, >70% compliant and >60% compliant groups. Two centres were found to be < 50% compliant and both were visited as was the centre that had not completed the online audit. The radiotherapy centres selected also ensured that all HEIs were covered. Visits were undertaken between 24th July and 24th August 2012.

The purpose of the visits was to validate the audit findings with the radiotherapy service manager by testing a selection of evidence. This was followed by clarifying and probing issues of note in the free text comments with the RSM and a range of staff in each centre, together with any students that happened to be present.

In addition to the RSMs a total of 36 qualified radiographers was interviewed and all grades were represented from Band 8 to Band 5. Depending on workload, some staff were interviewed individually and others in groups. Nine students were interviewed, always in groups. It is acknowledged that this is an opportunistic sample.

Field notes were taken during interviews. Emerging themes were identified afterwards and a list compiled. As the visits progressed, the themes crystalised and the scope and limitations of each was developed. Any examples of good practice were also noted and a sample of these is included as a series of annexes to this report although it should be noted that these are opportunistic and by no means exhaustive.

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