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1.0 Introduction

The College of Radiographers first developed its views on radiographer reporting in 19971 stating that it was not an option for the future but a requirement. In 20062 it reiterated this and set out the role of radiographers in diagnostic image interpretation in more detail. Two specific roles were identified:

  • clinical reporting by radiographers who have successfully completed postgraduate education and training approved by the College, and
  • initial image interpretation as a development of abnormality signalling systems, generally referred to as ‘red dot’ systems.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, radiographers’ contributions to diagnostic image interpretation continued to develop and grow, as shown by successive surveys of role development in radiography.3-7 The evidence base also grew and confirmed that radiographers were able to contribute effectively at the appropriate standards in their defined fields of clinical reporting practice8 and that structured initial image interpretation by radiographers has expanded with tangible benefits to service quality.9 Other studies, too, confirm the benefits of reporting radiographers,10-13 including cost effectiveness benefits.14

A major survey in 2008 showed that musculo-skeletal reporting by radiographers was taking place in 53% of responding sites, with 83% undertaking ultrasound reporting.6 Extensive implementation of the profession’s career progression framework, including significant numbers of consultant practitioners and the establishment of a number of trainee consultant posts was also identified. These developments and continuing emergence of both assistant and advanced practice roles in wide ranging fields of practice in radiography show that the profession is responsive and adaptable, well able to meet the demands of new ways of working and increased responsibilities.

Evolving healthcare policy is also impacting on the radiography workforce, especially the drive to deliver more services in the primary care sector and to improve the early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.15-17 Both of these policies have the potential to change the shape of clinical imaging services significantly. These services, coupled with continuing long term fiscal restraint, need to maximise the contributions of the entire workforce, be innovative in designing new ways of delivering services and enhance the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of services.

The joint publication of the Royal College of Radiologists and the College of Radiographers18 ‘Team Working in Clinical Imaging’ sets out that clinical imaging services need to deliver the right test at the right time with the report available in time to support and influence patient management. In 2013 and beyond, radiographers must play their full part in delivering this goal across the spectrum of image acquisition, image interpretation and integration of these roles into patient care pathways. In this publication, the College of Radiographers sets out the role of radiographers in relation to clinical reporting and initial image interpretation.

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