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1. Introduction

1.1

The aim of this statement is to confirm the current scope of practice for the professional workforce for diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy. The term ‘professional workforce’ includes the following practitioners:

  • diagnostic radiographers
  • therapeutic radiographers
  • sonographers
  • nuclear medicine technologists
  • dosimetrists
  • others working at autonomous practitioner level.

In this way, this scope of practice statement is relevant for all those health care professionals working within diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy with the exception of the support workforce, including assistant practitioners, for whom other statements have been published.1

1.2

The majority of the professional workforce is registered and regulated by a statutory regulatory body. For those who have qualified as diagnostic or therapeutic radiographers, this will be with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Other members of the professional workforce may be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Some will not be regulated by a statutory regulator because, for historical reasons, their professional discipline has not yet been accepted for statutory regulation in the UK. As an example, sonographers who are not radiographers, midwives or nurses by professional background are unable to register with the HCPC or NMC. The SCoR accords the same professional standing to those falling outside the statutory regulation to those within it. However, law limits their scope of practice in two regards:

i) Healthcare professionals who are not statutorily registered cannot act under Patient Group Directions for the administration of drugs and medicines, or train to become Supplementary Prescribers. They are able to act under Patient Specific Directions but those requiring them to act under these directions must ensure they are competent to do so safely.

ii) Healthcare professionals who are not statutorily registered cannot act as an IR(ME)R entitled referrer or practitioner for examinations or treatments involving the use of ionising radiation.2

1.3

This document updates the previous statement published in 2009 and follows the survey of the scope of radiographic practice undertaken in 2012.3 It incorporates the guidance on the scope of practice in medical ultrasound which was published in 2009 4 and nuclear medicine practice in 2007.5

1.4

The professional body has responsibility for leadership of the profession. In doing so, it strengthens the contributions of the professional workforce within existing and emerging health and social care teams, specialising and re-designing roles in line with changing service needs.

1.5

SCoR has always encouraged, and continues to encourage, the professional workforce to seize opportunities for developing their roles within an ever more dynamic health care environment.6 They have done this very successfully by diversifying and expanding their roles to contribute to quality improvement to the benefit of the service and service users. Research undertaken in 2008 identified that the pace of change was continuing to intensify and that the profession was continuing to rise to this challenge.7 Additional survey evidence undertaken in 2012 showed further progress in role developments.3 (See tables 1 and 2).

Table 1. The Diagnostic Radiography Workforce in 2012

The Diagnostic Radiography Workforce in 2012

The results of a survey of 143 service managers in diagnostic imaging departments across the UK were that significant numbers of departments have practitioner-led examinations, interventional procedures and gastro-intestinal studies. Many members of the professional diagnostic radiography workforce issue written reports, especially in ultrasound departments. There has been a three-fold increase in the proportion of departments with researchers since 2008.

Table 2. The Therapeutic Radiography Workforce in 2012

The Therapeutic Radiography Workforce in 2012

In the survey of 43 centres (out of 64) across the UK, radiotherapy service managers reported that the role of the professional therapeutic radiography workforce continues to expand with responsibilities across the entire radiotherapy pathway. In many centres, these include responsibility for an increasing range of pre-treatment, treatment and post- treatment activities. Two thirds of centres have a practitioner-led treatment planning service; most have practitioner-led on-treatment review and in almost one third of centres radiographers are undertaking supplementary prescribing. Around two thirds of centres have tumour site specialists and just over four fifths of centres have technical specialist roles.

 

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