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1. Introduction

1.1 The term Independent Practitioner encompasses all those members of The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) who are healthcare practitioners (whether registered with a regulatory body or not) and who are not directly classed as employees. They provide services to Healthcare Commissioners, Trusts and Health Boards, corporate medical companies and, in some cases, directly to members of the public who may self-refer. These services include diagnostic imaging, screening, Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), therapy and education. Independent practitioner members may, for example, be self-employed, partners, company directors, franchisors or franchisees.

1.2 There is increasing demand on diagnostic imaging and therapy services to meet the requirements of the various national screening programmes, local and national targets for diagnosis and treatment as well as new initiatives on early cancer diagnosis. Following implementation of the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act (2012),1 General Practitioners (GPs) have a leading role in  commissioning services in England  which can include provision by ‘Any Qualified Provider’ (AQP). This has accentuated the need for alternative high quality specialist services providing services to the NHS who may also be able to offer provision closer to where people live. The SCoR has published jointly with the Royal College of Radiologists and the Royal College of General Practitioners a good practice guide for delivering services in primary care.2

1.3 The SCoR supports the role of the independent practitioner and recognises the need for policies to enable them to provide highly professional standards of care. This document provides guidelines for professional practice for members who are working within the definition stated above; it does not directly apply to employees of independent providers.

1.4 Following the publication of the ‘Francis’ report into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust  failings, it is essential that all members,  whether working independently or not, are aware of their responsibilities in ensuring that poor standards of care that they may encounter are addressed. It is the professional responsibility of every member to take action where there is concern or, indeed, evidence of unacceptable or substandard care. The SCoR response to the ‘Francis’ report can be found at https://www.sor.org/news/scor-publishes-response-francis-report

1.5 This document does not advise on legal and internal revenue matters for independent practice, or on the setting up of private companies. Additional advice on these matters should be sought from appropriate sources.

1.6 At the 2013 Annual Delegates Conference motion No. 49 3 was passed that tasked UK Council with publishing guidance on maximising opportunities for radiographers within GP commissioning and service provision, and support members in identifying how to plan for their futures, including access to information and support on the impact on their NHS pension. Council has as a result published information and guidance which can be accessed via https://www.sor.org/career-progression/independent-practitioners.  Independent practitioners as well as those considering setting themselves up as independent practitioners are advised to read the information and guidance provided.

1.7 There can be frequent changes affecting Independent Practice and practitioners are advised to ensure that they regularly monitor websites such as those run by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and local and national commissioning organisations in particular. It can be helpful to receive RSS feeds if these are available and to sign up for any electronic information or newsletters those individual organisations may produce. It is the intention of the Department of Health that central support for the AQP commissioning process in England will cease in 2014 and be transferred to local commissioners and commissioning support units. The SCoR maintains an informal e-list of independent practitioner members that it is possible to join by contacting the Professional Support team via www.sor.org/contact-us. Joining will help the SCoR identify members practising independently and can be used to disseminate information between group members and from and to the SCoR.

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