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14.0 Nursing (recommendations 185 – 213)

14.1 Radiography is a member of the allied health professions rather than nursing. Nevertheless, we felt it important to consider the recommendations for nursing and to consider whether there were lessons for radiography. A sizeable amount of the work of our organisation relates to education and we have been setting the standards for radiography initial and post-qualifying education since the Society of Radiographers was established in 1920, although statutory responsibility for the standards of proficiency, and education and training for entry to the profession now resides with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

14.2 Through our Approval and Accreditation Board (AAB), we undertake approvals of education and training programmes for the assistant workforce, for entry to the profession, and for continuing education and postgraduate programmes, regularly maintaining and updating our standards. As noted earlier, we also accredit individuals for their levels of practice at assistant, advanced and consultant practitioner level. We have always given equal emphasis to the practical training as to the theoretical and have decided to enhance this further by developing practice standards for diagnostic and therapeutic radiography; these will form a core part of our Education and Career Framework which was revised during 2012 and re-published in January 2013.5 This work is timely and will take into account the HCPC’s new Standards of Proficiency for radiographers, published in May 2013,7 and the recommendations for nurse education and training in the Francis Report.  

14.3 For almost a decade we have provided our members with an e-based continuing professional development (CPD) tool which enables them to identify professional learning outcomes relevant to their practice and record and reflect on a wide range of related CPD activities. This year we have undertaken a major upgrade of our CPD tool to further facilitate members’ CPD recording and reflections. 

14.4 In 2014, we will scope a piece of work associated with our CPD tool aimed at those thinking of entering the profession. The intention is to make it available to prospective students and to encourage them to identify personal development goals related particularly to the values and behaviours appropriate to pursuing a healthcare profession in which there is constant interaction with patients. We believe this work will tie in with recommendation 185, not solely for nursing but for the radiography profession.  Also, in the early part of 2014, we are undertaking a major re-build of our careers website and will be ensuring that values and behaviours appropriate to a career in radiography feature strongly in the new website.

14.5 Our CPD tool can be used throughout individuals’ careers, enabling those seeking posts to provide evidence of their values and compassionate care behaviours as well as the development of their professional skills and knowledge. It is also able to support annual appraisal and development reviews. However, we believe there is an urgent need for healthcare organisations to take annual appraisal and development reviews seriously, to ensure that these are positively focussed processes that are welcomed and valued by appraisers and appraisees alike, and to give them the priority they should have. In 2004, the NHS adopted a new pay and reward system with its Knowledge and Skills Framework8 and a clear requirement to undertake annual reviews. We believe there can be no excuse for the current patchy and half-hearted approach to annual appraisals experienced by our members.  

14.6 Our organisation already expects leadership training to be part of initial and continuing education, and leadership skills to be evident at all levels of the radiography profession and workforce. Indeed, we promoted successfully the need for leadership to be included by the HCPC within the recently published Standards of Proficiency - Radiographers.7

14.7 We offer a short, intensive course on leadership development within our conferences and events programme once or twice every year and, in 2014, we are adding a further leadership development course to our existing provision.

14.8 Our Education and Career Framework5 includes learning outcomes relevant to developing leadership skills at all levels of professional practice and earlier this year we published the outcome of a project to develop draft modules and a credit framework to support development of management skills in radiographers,9 particularly those leading and managing services. We have also updated our guidance on professional supervision in November 2013.10 

14.9 Overall, the recommendations for nursing are equally pertinent to the radiography workforce, particularly those related to education, training and development. We set out below the work we have undertaken in the past year, or have scheduled for the coming year, to continue to strengthen our education and training functions.

  • Completed a thorough revision and updating of our Education and Career Framework5
  • Undertaken a major upgrade of our e-portfolio CPD tool   
  • Published draft modules and credit framework to support high level leadership and management development9
  • We offer up to two leadership development courses per annum, Developing Excellence in Clinical Leadership; and are adding a new course, Choosing Health and Wellbeing: Improving Working Lives, to our programme. 
  • We are publishing revised and updated guidance on professional supervision10
  • We are re-building our careers website and will feature values and behaviours strongly within it
  • We will be undertaking a project to establish practice standards for diagnostic and therapeutic radiography
  • We will be scoping the potential to use our e-CPD tool to enable those thinking of applying to enter the profession to develop and evidence their values and behaviours relative to a career in patient-facing healthcare.

14.10 We felt that Recommendation 201 needed a specific response. This recommendation called upon The Royal College of Nursing to consider whether it should formally divide its “Royal College” functions and its employee representative/trade union functions. As our own organisation spans a similar spectrum, we deemed it appropriate to examine this matter in depth. We concluded that our governance and operational structures enable us to function effectively; please see appendix 2 for more detail.

14.11 We also felt that Recommendation 209 warranted a specific response as it, too, is a significant recommendation for the radiography profession and workforce. It suggests that a system of registration is needed for all individuals involved in giving direct care to patients under the care of a registered nurse or registered doctor. We are unconvinced that this is necessary. 

14.12 Registered radiographers work with unregistered assistants and support staff, taking responsibility for their supervision in the workplace including supervising those at the assistant level who are expected to irradiate patients and/or undertake other routine clinical procedures. We introduced a system of accreditation for assistant practitioners some years ago and, last year, took the decision to recognise only those we have accredited as assistant practitioners. This takes effect from 1st January 2014 for new assistant practitioners, and 30th September 2014 for those currently employed as assistant practitioners but not yet accredited. We have tightened the process further by requiring re-accreditation on a two-yearly cycle. 

14.13 For the radiography profession and workforce, we feel these measures are proportionate and robust, and we expect all NHS employers to require those employed as assistant practitioners in clinical imaging or radiotherapy services to become accredited and to maintain their professional accreditation.

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