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2. Environments and roles


The professional workforce is pivotal to delivering fast and reliable diagnoses of disease, and curative and palliative treatment and care for patients with cancer, taking responsibility for managing the complete care pathway. The direction of travel is for more independent and not-for-profit primary and community-based services. There is a greater focus on prevention and early diagnosis (including the National Screening Committee programmes) which inevitably increases the role and scope of clinical imaging and radiotherapy practice.


Professional and legal frameworks define the way in which the profession must practice. Of particular importance is the Code of Conduct and Ethics 8 published by The Society and College of Radiographers and the Health and Care Professions Council’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.9 These documents are important to the whole profession, whether regulated by the HCPC or not.


The scope of practice is defined within the following framework:

  • Occupational Role: clinician, manager, researcher, educator.
  • Sector: The National Health Service (NHS) across primary, secondary and tertiary care; General Practice; Independent and private health care services; Higher Education; research establishments and other fields such as armed forces, prisons, customs and excise, industry and commerce and veterinary practices.

The profession’s education and professional development strategy10 introduced advanced and consultant practice roles in line with healthcare policy. Independent research conducted in 2008 demonstrated the degree to which these roles had been adopted and suggested that growth of these roles would increase and diversify yet further.7


The professional diagnostic radiography workforce takes the lead responsibility for the management and care of patients undergoing the spectrum of imaging examinations together with associated image interpretation. Increasingly, it also leads on integrating these two processes into the patient care pathway as a member of the multidisciplinary team.11,12


The professional therapeutic workforce takes the lead responsibility for the management and care of patients undergoing radiotherapy during the pre-treatment, treatment delivery and immediate post-treatment phases. Working as part of the multidisciplinary cancer team, their role supports patients and their families through the entire cancer journey from health promotion to end of life care.11,13,14


Members of the professional diagnostic and therapeutic radiography workforce are engaged in research and development to continue to build the knowledge necessary for evidence-based practice.15


They are also responsible for educating, training and mentoring within the profession so that patients receive the highest quality and standard of clinical imaging, radiotherapy and associated healthcare.


Managing complex and rapidly changing clinical imaging and radiotherapy services requires the highest level of leadership and managerial skills as well as excellent clinical skills: the professional workforce is essential to the provision of strong and innovative leadership and management of these services.


The profession also needs innovators and role models to take the profession forward. They will be drawn from across the occupational roles, particularly from those in advanced and consultant positions and the profession’s leading managers, educators and researchers.

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